“So, why are you Padfoot?”
“Hm?” Sirius turns away from his conversation with James to look back at me.
We’re all walking up the stairs towards the Great Hall after our long ride in the train and horseless-drawn carriages. Though famished and tired, everyone is pretty eager to reunite with their Houses and finally kick off the school year.
“Your nicknames,” I clarify as Sirius doubles back to walk with me instead. “I mean, I’ve just about figured out that Remus is Moony, Peter is Wormtail, and James is Prongs. Bloody strange, alright, but why are you Padfoot?”
Sirius smirks, as if their little secret delighted him. “Well, if I told you, then our super secret nicknames wouldn’t be so super secret, now would they?”
“What, is this some sort of joke?”
“A super secret one.”
I just roll my eyes. “Fine, fine, leave the girls out of your boy games then.”
At this, Sirius chuckles. “It’s not about leaving girls out of ‘boy games.’” He makes air quotes with his fingers teasingly. “It’s just that some things aren’t my place to say.” He glances at Remus and then shrugs.
The slight movement makes me raise my eyebrows. Are they hiding something? Peculiar.
“Anyway,” Sirius continues in an easygoing tone, “I can’t wait till we get through sorting the First Years so we can finally eat! Bloody hell, I’m starving.”
“Sorting?” I repeat curiously. “I don’t remember that happening last year.”
“Well, it ended right about when you came in. Who knew it’d take you so bloody long to find the Great Hall after McGonagall let you…” His voice trails off.
I spin around to see that he’d stopped right in his tracks, staring at something or someone a few meters to his right.
“Just go on ahead,” he says distractedly before shoving through the moving crowd of people towards the far hallway to his right.
“What the—Sirius!” I let out a short breath of disbelief and then start making my way towards him. “I thought you said you were hungry! Where are you…?”
My eyes narrow when I spot him grab the arm of a boy and then roughly drag him further down the hallway to turn down a secluded corridor. Who—wait, isn’t that Regulus?
I rarely see the Regulus at all during the school year. I mean, small wonder, right? Since he’s in a different year and an entirely different House from us, we don’t have any classes together. Plus, since when have Gryffindors ever willingly fraternized with Slytherins?
But… it’s even stranger to see Sirius associating himself with his little brother. Even when they were younger, I never got the impression that they were particularly close.
When they were younger…? Wait, how did I remember that?
I quickly shake off the now increasingly familiar feeling of my childhood memories resurfacing and slink off after them. Alright, I know. Don’t stalk people. But, c’mon, how can I even resist?
As I tiptoe closer to the secluded corridor, the chattering of the students’ conversations behind me fade away and the sounds of poorly hushed whispering grows louder.
“…got his letter this morning, Reg. What the hell were you thinking?”
“None of your business, blood traitor.”
“None of my business? Is that your excuse for telling them about me? Are you insane?”
“Because you’re on the losing side, you fool!”
My eyes widen at the venom in Regulus’ voice. This sounds nothing like the kind younger brother I danced with over the winter holidays. What’s going on…?
I chance a peek around the corner to see Regulus pinned against the wall and Sirius’ hands at his shoulders, the angered look on Sirius’ face almost frightening. But before I can get a closer look, I see Regulus’ eyes flicker in my direction and I quickly retreat behind the wall, my heart pounding.
“And…” I hear Regulus continue in a harsh whisper, “you may be a blood traitor, but you’re still my brother.”
“How can I trust you? How could I possibly…” There’s a long pause. “Show me your arm.”
“Show me your bloody arm.”
“No, let go!”
“Get off me, Sirius!”
I hold my breath and squeeze my eyes shut as a scuffling ensues around the corner. There’s a sudden loud rip of cloth and then a silence, interrupted only by the sound of heavy breathing. I hear a muted grunt and then the sound of running footsteps, fading as they retreated down the corridor.
The long bout of silence finally makes me open my eyes again.
What the hell was all that about?
I lean over to glance around the corner again to see Sirius leaning against the wall now, his head in his hands. Some part of me wants to run over and comfort him… but then again, what would I say? That it’ll be okay? I don’t even have an inkling of a clue as to what they were talking about. Blimey, just add this to the multitude of things I don’t know about Sirius Black…
In all my mental ramblings, my ears barely register the sound of approaching footsteps until they’re right around the corner. Around the corner? Around… the—ME AND MY THOUGHTS, BLOODY HELL.
In a moment of panic, I scramble behind a nearby statue of a troll and flatten myself against the wall. My hands clap over my mouth as he walks past me, but Sirius seems so preoccupied with his thoughts that he doesn’t even give me the slightest glance.
Blimey… I definitely lucked out.
Once he’s a ways down the hallway, I let out a sigh of relief and begin to make my way back to the Great Hall myself. But as I walk closer I realize… how the hell am I supposed to get back into the Great Hall without Sirius noticing? I mean, there are three entrances, but it’s not like any of them are particularly discreet.
Well, that’s karma for ya, Cecilia. That’s what you get for bloody stalking people.
I mentally smack myself one more time before turning on my heel and trudging towards the dorms, my stomach gurgling all the while. But before I can take another step, I hear the soft creak of the Great Hall door opening and then a voice call out behind me.
I feel my heart jump into my throat. Bollocks, he’s seen me! How the hell?!
“What are you doing here?” Sirius continues warily, still far down the hallway. “Aren’t you supposed to already be… inside… you! G-get over here.”
“Eep! Sirius, ow!”
The Great Hall door abruptly slams shut and the voices move away to the other hallway. I scrunch up my face in confusion. Now what’s going on?
“Ow, Sirius, will you let go? Ow, ow! Blimey, why hello to you too!”
“What the hell are you doing here?”
Step by step, I slowly move closer. I strain my ears and rack my mind, thoroughly bemused. Who is he talking to? Who could he have possibly mistaken for me after known me for over ten years? I mean, my face isn’t that generic, is it?
“What, you’re not happy to see me after all this time? Uh, I thought you needed me, Sirius.”
“Th-that’s not what I meant! Stop interpreting things to your convenience!”
Wait a minute… I could recognize that voice anywhere. After spending sixteen years with the girl, it’s unmistakable. But how’s that even possible? Sonata’s halfway around the world at Fu Shu. She’s been there since summer school. Right?
“And you never answered my question. Why are you at Hogwarts?”
“Do you even need to ask? To see you, of course!”
Then it hits me. So, that’s why Mum stayed at home to help Sonata pack. She wasn’t being senile. It was actually true?
“I really missed you, Sirius!”
Before I can even stop myself, I step out from behind the corner. “You know, that’s a good question. Why are you here, Sonata?” I ask, my voice cutting through the air like a knife.
Sirius flinches in surprise, but Sonata just looks over at me gleefully. “Cecilia, you were here? Well, that ruin things. I was going to surprise you later!”
“I’m… already pretty surprised as is.” I glance over at Sirius, a skeptical look on my face.
He looks from me to Sonata. “Ah, this… this isn’t what it looks like. Will you get off?” Sirius adds to Sonata as he struggles to pry her arms off from around his neck.
“So, you guys do know each other then?” I ask, ignoring Sirius’ vague remark.
Sonata stares at him aghast. “You had her under the impression that we were strangers this entire time? Sirius!”
“Not that we were strangers!” Sirius tries to explain. “I just thought it’d be weird to just randomly tell her—”
“That we’re dating?”
My mind explodes. Literally, I think my mind just exploded.
“SONATA, WHY DO YOU ALWAYS DO THIS?” Sirius exclaims, clutching his head in his hands and gaping at her in disbelief. “You’ve just made this whole situation a billion times worse!”
“Well, it’s not a lie—” Sonata starts to protest, pouting.
“It is a lie!” Sirius interrupts loudly. He then turns to me, holding out his hands warily. Wait, warily? Do I look that scary? “Cecilia, listen,” he begins in a calming voice. “We’re not dating alright? Sonata’s just playing games. You know her, she always pulls crap like this. We kind of dated for a bit the summer before our fifth year, but that’s it, I swear.”
Sonata lets out a loud whine. “Sirius, you’re no fun! Can’t you tell her we were deeply in love with each other?”
“Because we weren’t! Bloody hell!”
But I just stand there in complete silence. I’m not even sure what expression I have on my face (angry? sad? hurt?), but to me it doesn’t feel like I’m showing any kind of emotion except for complete disbelief.
“Er, Cecilia… say something?” I hear Sirius say slowly. “You’re kind of freaking me out here.”
And before my mind can even process it, I blurt out, “Wow, you are such a ho.”
“I know, I’m really sorry I didn’t tell you earlier—what?” Sirius stares at me, completely baffled by my reaction.
“Yeah, you heard me,” I continue, my mouth moving without me even really thinking about it. I fold my arms loosely over my chest. “Seriously. Just calling you playboy doesn’t even cut it anymore. You are officially a man-whore.”
“Wait, I—” Sirius starts, but I cut him off.
“I thought you were limited to just half the girls in the entire school and, yeah, sure, that’s in the past, but doing my sister?” At some point, spite had seeped into my voice. “That’s seriously overdoing it.”
“Wha—I never did your sister!” Sirius sputters out. “We were like fifteen, bloody hell!”
At this, Sonata looks at Sirius in amazement once again. “You’ve been keeping that from her too, Sirius? Shame on you! I thought you had enough integrity to admit to her that we had—wait, sis, come back! It was a joke!” She calls out to my retreating back, jumping up and down before letting out a huff. “Yeesh, great sense of humor you have.”
Sirius just shoots her a glare.
“Aw, c’mon, cut the act,” Sonata teases, smiling cutely at him with my face. “You’re actually ecstatic that I’m here, aren’t you?”
“Uh huh, because that’s exactly how I look like righ—oi, gerroff!”
With a final glance over my shoulder, I turn back to stride down the hallway, away from the image of Sonata pouncing onto Sirius behind me.
My thoughts race through my head, replaying the conversation over and over again, seething. But the moment I turn the corner, I wince guiltily. Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t have gotten so scarily angry.
But can you even blame me?
Literally a couple of hours earlier today, Sirius was playing around trying to convince me that we’re dating. Now the gods of dramatic subplots are revealing right at this bloody moment that Sirius dated my twin sister? Are you bloody kidding me!
Right, calm down. Don’t jump to conclusions. There has to be some explanation. But, ugh… some use logic is when it comes to dealing with emotions. I feel bloody miserable...
Sighing, I run up the last few steps of stairs and stop before the portrait of the Fat Lady.
“Fizzing Whizzbees,” I reply promptly, courtesy of Remus (who was still prefect, go figure) from earlier on the train.
The frame swings open and I climb through the portrait hole to see a completely empty Common Room before me. I look around in confusion for a moment before my stomach gurgles and I remember… right, I completely skipped out on dinner.
“Serves me right,” I mutter to myself.
I shove my hands in my pockets and make my way up the stairs towards the girls’ dormitories, skipping every other step. I burst through the dormitory doors, stride right to my four-poster bed, and promptly faceplant onto it – every cell in my body just wanting to forget about everything and pretend it all didn’t happen.
“Leave me here to roooottttt…” I groan into the sheets.
I raise my head slightly off my pillow to see Vuxta pounce onto my bed and curl up next to me. “Aww, kitty!” I say softly as I reach my hand around to scratch behind her ears. “Who needs Sirius when I have you, right?”
I smile as she licks my hand and then set my head back down on my pillow, suddenly feeling like I’m ready to pass out.
“Hey, sis! Siiiiiste—blimey, you sleeping already?”
I jolt awake at the voice. What the, I really fell asleep?
A door slams closed and I snap my head back to see Sonata prance towards my bed, an ungodly gleeful look on her face. The sight of her makes me flop my head back facedown into my pillow.
“Go away, Sonata,” I say loudly, my words muffled through the cushion.
“Aww, don’t be mad, sis.” I feel her plop herself down next to me. “Besides… I brought you food!”
The smell of it makes my mouth water despite myself.
Fooood… yum… no, shut up, stomach! Get your priorities straight!
I push myself up into a sitting position and take the plate from Sonata to place it on my bedstand. My stomach gives a sad gurgle in response, but I hastily ignore it.
“What are you doing here, Sonata?” I ask for the third time. “Like seriously, what are you doing at Hogwarts? What happened to Fu Shu?”
She tilts her head side to side thoughtfully before picking up a cookie from the plate she got me. “Hmm? Mum didn’t tell you?”
“Tell me what…”
My jaw drops as my twin sister flops herself over my lap, unaware of the crumbs getting all over my sheets.
“See, that’s why I was taking summer classes all holiday. The curriculum here is so different from the one in China,” she continues airily. “I’ve been planning on transferring ever since I heard about you and Sirius. I kept on getting endless letters from Mum about how you two were getting absolutely nowhere and then I thought, well, I can’t possibly leave you in this miserable engageme—”
“Wait, what?” I stare down at her aghast. “What did you say you’ve come here for?”
Sonata pushes herself up from my lap. “The engagement!” she repeats and then asks in a hushed voice, “You’re not going to tell me you and Sirius actually started dating, right?”
“No!” I answer reflexively before wincing. “Wait, no, I mean—”
“Perfect!” Sonata exclaims, beaming. The look on her face is so delighted that it actually renders me speechless. For a moment, I can’t even remember what I was going to say to explain myself.
“Wait…” I start slowly, “you actually like Sirius? Since when?”
“Since ever, Cecilia!” Sonata rolls her eyes exasperatedly. “You two always hung out together by yourselves when we were kids, but after your, you know, little incident...” She waves her hands vaguely. “Not sure what happened between you two there, but he finally found the time to be with me for once! Then I finally got him to go on a date with me two summers ago and we started dating, but then he made all these random excuses about you to break up with me…”
Her words make me frown in confusion.
Wait, he broke up with her because of me? But at that point, we hadn’t even seen each other for almost seven years! Still though… the thought does make me feel slightly mollified.
“…and then I started getting all these letters from Mum like I told you. I mean, really, I don’t know what she was thinking getting you two engaged. You two barely even get along. But anyway, and then Dan and I broke up last year and, ta da, here I am!” she finishes all in one breath.
I just sit there wordlessly, taken aback at her epic novel of a story. “Here… to do what?” I finally ask.
“Well.” Sonata leans forward to peer into my eyes. “It all comes down to one question, doesn’t it, sis?”
I lean back instinctively. “Which is…?”
She just grins at me.
“Do you like Sirius Black?”