To be completely honest, the rest of the year passed by pretty uneventfully. Well, unless you count losing Quidditch finals and massive loads of O.W.L. studying eventful?
Despite Sirius’ claims that he was perfectly fine, Madam Pomfrey would have eaten her nurse cap before she let him play in the final match. Guess it was just as well. I did catch him wince every so often he bent over to pick something up.
But even so, our House generally assumed we were a shoo in for the cup against Slytherin. I’d like to point out that people also generally assumed that Rize Hertz wasn’t actually insanely infatuated with Sirius. Because who could’ve predicted that Rize would be so distracted by Sirius’ absence that he’d let all the goals? HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN.
So Slytherin won the Quidditch Cup for the nth time. Big whoop.
The rest of the term was occupied entirely (and I mean that quite literally) with O.W.L. studying. Eight to ten hours of revision all day everyday? I don’t remember ever studying so hard in my life!
But as boring as it is cramming spell theory and facts about the Giant Wars, learning about the gang’s O.W.L. study habits was pretty intriguing...
Sirius is surprisingly diligent and, oddly enough, really anti-social when he studies. We never did homework together, so I didn’t notice before, but now that I think about it… I don’t remember ever seeing him study. I always assumed he just magically knew all the information (don’t ask), but it all makes a lot more sense now if he just does it all alone.
Lily, of course, spent all of her revision time with James. I suspect that not all of that time was dedicated to studying… but, hey, they’re such a cute couple, who can even blame them?
As per usual, Remus and I would study together either in front of the Common Room fireplace or in the library, often with Peter tagging along. Peter definitely needed the most help out of the six of us. Whether it be explaining concepts to him in eight different ways or comforting him when he burst into tears from the stress, Remus and I had to do it all. I didn’t mind that much though. Peter’s so nice anyway.
The O.W.L.’s themselves went alright in the end!
And as for results? Exceeding Expectations in pretty much every subject with Outstanding’s in Defence Against the Dark Arts, Potions, Transfiguration, and Charms. I just barely scraped an Acceptable in History of Magic, but whoooooo even bloody cares.
Sirius claims he got Outstanding’s in every subject and I’m still debating whether he’s joking or not… I mean, he must be, but some part of me also feels like there’s a slight chance he might actually be bloody smart enough to do that.
Er, how do I know his O.W.L. grades in the first place?
Well, Sirius and I have kind of been exchanging letters all summer. I spent the holiday in France with my family, so I didn’t get to see as much of the gang as I would’ve liked. Lily came to visit for a week, but from what I’ve read in Sirius’ letters, apparently he, James, Remus, and Peter have been having these monthly epic excursions around the country together. Merlin knows what those might entail.
Needless to say, the summer holiday couldn’t have passed by fast enough.
“Why… the bloody hell… is this still… so buggin’ difficult!”
With a final heave, I drag my luggage onto the platform off the stairs, gasping and wheezing a lot more than I’d like to admit. I wipe the beads of sweat off my forehead with the back of my hand and lean against my trunk for support.
You’d think a year’s worth of Quidditch practice would make the journey up the stairs a lot easier, but clearly the holidays have turned all my muscles into glorious flab.
Mum was originally going to send me to King’s Cross herself, but apparently she has to stay behind to help Sonata pack for school. I swear Mum is going senile. Did she completely forget that Sonata already spent all holiday at Fu Shu School of Magick and Arts taking summer classes? Blimey, Mum, you’re not even that old yet!
Though, honestly, I don’t mind so much that Mum’s not around harping on and on about taking care of myself since…
My face breaks out into a mischievous smile when I spot him.
Leaning leisurely against the side of the brick column between platforms 9 and 10, his head tilted down and his eyes focused on a piece of parchment he held loosely in his hand. Even during the few seconds I watch him, I notice a group of girls giggle and whisper to each other as they pass him.
He looks up and grins at them in return.
The familiar sight makes me roll my eyes in amusement. The summer holidays haven’t changed him one bit. Still every bit the Casanova I remember.
Let’s see how super suave sexy playboy he is after this...
I haul my school trunk back in my hand and drag it to the other side of the platform, giving Sirius a wide berth, before propping it against the brick column and stealthily sneaking up behind him. I take a deep breath… puff out my chest… and then bellow at the top of my lungs…!
But instead of giving a jolt of surprise, Sirius just snorts. “Acid pops, really?” he comments, not even looking up from his reading.
I let out a loud groan. “Ugh, you’re not scared of anything!”
He looks over his shoulder at me and smirks. “Maybe if you bellowed scarier things than acid pops, you’d have better luck at this.”
“Well, I still need to get back at you for scaring the crap out of me on my birthday! But you’re not scared of boggarts, or spiders, or even bloody DEMENTORS.” I wave my arms exaggeratedly before giving up. “What are you reading anyway? You didn’t see me coming?”
I glance down at the parchment to catch the name Lucius Malfoy scribbled at the bottom of what looked to be a rather long letter. My eyes narrow curiously.
“Nothing important.” Sirius grins at me before crumpling up the piece of parchment and shoving it in his pants pocket. “And I could see you from a mile away,” he points out as he reaches down to wrap his arms around my waist. “I’m pretty sure the entire Muggle population of King’s Cross saw you climbing the stairs like an eighty-year-old lady.”
My face flushes as he pulls me close. “Hey, my trunk is heavy alright?” I complain, trying to distract myself from the sudden proximity. “And if you saw me, then why didn’t you help? Some gentleman you are.”
Sirius just gives me a crooked smirk. “Uh huh, and where’s the fun in that?”
“Uh, basic human altruism?” I retort.
“Or my lack thereof,” he counters, not missing a beat. “Plus, don’t you have anything better to say to me after the summer holidays other than acid pops? Maybe something cute like ‘I missed you’? Or even ‘I really missed you’?”
And before my face can even turn any redder, Sirius leans closer to me and his eyes flicker closed.
Within the time-span of a second, my eyes dart from his lightly shut eyes to his goddamn perfectly formed lips to the crowd of Muggles bustling around us. It’s the final image that actually registers in my mind. People. Like an entire station… full of people.
I let out a high-pitched yelp and leap out of his arms. “Wait-a-minute-stop!”
The surprised expression on his face quickly morphs into a look of deep amusement. “What?” he says, clearly trying not to laugh.
“What-do-you-think-you’re-doing-don’t-you-know-people-are-watching?” I blurt out, flustered.
Sirius raises an eyebrow. “Yeah, so? It’s not like we were going to start snogging or anything. Plus, even Muggles give each other a peck on the lips in public. Aren’t we dating anyway?”
My mind screeches to a stop.
“Dating?” I repeat, probably looking a little more appalled than I should’ve.
“Yeah, like ‘going out,” he begins listing off, “or ‘seeing each other, or ‘being in a relationship’, or ‘engaging in intimate social interactio—’”
“I know what dating is!” I interject in exasperation, ignoring the now thoroughly entertained look on his face. “I mean, since when were we dating? Says who?”
“Us,” Sirius repeats matter-of-factly. He raises his hand and starts counting on his fingers. “I mean, let’s look at the facts. One, we like each other. Uncontended?” I blush and quickly look away. “Yeah, I thought so. Two, we’ve been exchanging letters all summer. Even Remus says you haven’t been sending him nearly as many messages as you’ve been sending me owls.” I wince at that. “It’s fine. He was busy hanging out with us anyway. Three, we even kissed on your birthday—”
“We never actually kissed!” I interrupt, my face a bright red. “You call brushing lips a kiss?”
“Mere technicality,” he says absently before continuing, “And four, I came to pick you up on the platform without you even prompting it. I mean, like, hey.” He gestures to himself. “Boyfriend points?”
“You’re not my boyfriend!” I correct him hastily.
“If you say so.” Sirius winks at me and then reaches around the brick column to grab my trunk with one hand. (Wait, how the hell did he do that. My trunk weighs a million tons.) “Also, I’d like to add a five to my list,” he says mischievously as he grabs my hand in his other. “I don’t remember ever hearing you complain when I do this.”
He leans over to give me a kiss on the cheek and I jump when his lips touch my skin. I glare at him, my face reddening again, but his grin just broadens.
“Case in point.”
“Well…!” I start to protest, but words fail me completely.
It be a barefaced lie if I told him I didn’t like it when he did stuff like that. Everything about him just excited me. To be completely honest, it kind of always did. The way he just completely disregards any rules. The way it was impossible to predict what he’s thinking or what he’s about to do next. The way he’s always one step ahead of me, regardless of how quick-witted I am. The way he somehow just knows exactly how to make my heart skip a beat… or fifty.
He’s not wrong.
I definitely like him.
Wait, so then are we dating? That’s such a bizarre concept. I mean, aren’t we already engaged? Like, technically, haven’t we skipped all these weird, awkward relationship stages?
How do you even arranged marriage I don’t even know.
“There you go again, lost in your own world.” Sirius’ voice pulls me out of my thoughts and I re-focus my gaze to see him roll his eyes in amusement. “If I waited any longer for the gears in your head to stop turning, we’d miss the train. C’mon then!”
“Whoa!” I yelp when he suddenly sprints through the brick wall between platforms 9 and 10, tugging me behind him.
I instinctively shut my eyes when my face passes through the seemingly solid surface and by the time I open them again, we’re running through a crowd of students instead, the magnificent Hogwarts Express on the platform beside us.
“Oi, Sirius, how’s it going, mate!”
“Hey, you two, lovebirds! Spend all holiday together?”
“You guys are so late!”
Voices call to us from all directions as Sirius drags me through the crowd at top speed. The Hogwarts Express lets out an echoing whistle to announce the last call before the train’s departure. And just as the train doors begin closing one by one, we spot James waving out from a carriage door and Sirius tosses my trunk to him before leaping onto the train.
I collide into Sirius’ chest from the momentum and we collapse against the carriage wall laughing.
“Well, that was fun,” he comments casually, his breath heavy from the sprint.
I push myself off of him to give him a joking glare. “Fun? You were acting like we were running for our lives!”
“Oh yeah? And you’d like to have missed the train instead?”
“We weren’t even that late!”
Sirius opens his mouth to reply, but is interrupted by James suddenly swinging his arms around both our shoulders. “Oh, come off it, you two!” he remarks, a broad grin on his face. “A bit early for a row, aren’t ya? The year’s barely even started!”
I just grin back at James as he ruffles my hair. “Long time no see, James.”
“That’s the face I want to see!” the boy laughs. He reaches over to pick up my trunk and nudges us down the corridor as the train finally starts to move. “C’mon, you two. Moony, Wormtail, and Lily are already in the compartment!”
I raise my eyebrows curiously. “Who are Moony and Wormtail?”
“Remus and Peter,” James replies with a grin before swinging open a nearby compartment door. “Hey, you lot! We’re back!”
And before I can even get a good look at the three of them sitting in the compartment, my line of sight is completely blocked by a mass of blazing red. “Blegh! Blimey, Lily!” I exclaim, spitting out a mouthful of hair.
“Ahhhh, Cecilia! I missed you so much!” she squeals gleefully.
“I missed you too, Lil,” I reply, her delight insanely infectious. “But seriously though, I just saw you like three weeks ago in Paris!”
“That’s ages compared to seeing you everyday at Hogwarts!” she protests as she finally lets me go. “Plus, it always took you so long to reply to my owls!”
I catch Sirius’ eye as he passes us by to sit by the window. He gives me a pointed look, clearly amused, and I try to hide a blush in return. I can tell he’s just dying to say, I told you so. But what Lily said wasn’t entirely true. I always replied to her letters within two days or so!
“I was kind of occupied,” I mumble, grinning sheepishly at her.
“Too occupied to scribble messages to me in a notebook?” a voice asks from behind Lily.
I look over her shoulder to see Remus give me a friendly wave from his place sitting across from Sirius. I fold my arms in mock indignation. “Not like you replied all that fast either. Too busy hanging around with the boys to give me any time yourself?”
Remus’ face breaks out into a wide smile. “I missed you too, mate.”
I grin as he gets up from his seat to give me a big bear hug. It’s definitely been way too long since I’d last seen Remus. I jokingly give him a super tight squeeze back and he coughs breathlessly.
“Too much friendship, too much friendship!” Remus gasps out, laughing as he pushes away from me.
I stick out my tongue. “Is there any such thing between us? Oh, and hi, Peter,” I add, giving the boy a genial wave.
After we all finally settle down, everyone breaks out into excited conversations about the holidays, the boys having a somewhat hushed discussion about another dastardly plan for delinquent merry-making. They’re all calling each other these silly nicknames, like Moony and Wormtail or whatever I heard earlier. I make a mental note to ask Remus or Sirius about them later and then turn back to Lily as she begins telling me every detail of her last date with James.
Ah, this… this is the kind of comfortable feeling I’ve been waiting for all summer.
My eyes connect with Sirius’ grey ones once again as chattering fills the compartment. We gaze at each other for almost a minute and, gradually, I notice the corner of his lips tilt up. I just smile to myself when I look away.
Hogwarts, I’m back.