Sirius Black was bored out of his mind. While this in itself wasn’t unusual, it was still quite unfortunate as he was known to act pretty recklessly when lacking of things to do. Remus would go as far as to say that he turned into a right idiot which, if he was being honest with himself, was the complete truth.
Not that he was ever going to admit it to his werewolf friend. The prat was already righteous enough as he was. Besides, James seemed to think his shenanigans were hilarious and Peter applauded every prank he pulled so he really couldn’t be that bad.
A smirk gracing his aristocratic features, he surveyed the crowd in search of his next victim. He soon caught sight of a puff of greying, messy hair among the sea of bodies evolving in front of him. With a sigh, all of his mischievous intentions abandoned him at once. He had promised Mr. Potter he’d be good tonight. What a drag!
It seemed the pureblood elite would remain unharmed and continue to enjoy their end-of-summer get together in peace. A shame, really... Merlin knew how much this lot deserved a good kick in the ass. His icy grey eyes clouding in anger, he resisted the urge to pout. He was, after all, a manly man, and men did not pout. He had a reputation to hold on to.
Tugging at his bowtie, he tried to remember why he had agreed to drag his feet to this hellish nightmare. He grimaced at the thought of Mrs. Potter. This woman might be old, but she was terrifying. All she had to do was to stare down at him and he would find himself acquiescing to whatever she said. However, he had to admit that her reasoning for attending these stupid balls was hardly disputable.
As she always said: a wise fellow keeps his friends near and his foes even nearer.
That’s why, even though she was considered as one of the biggest blood traitors that ever lived, Dorea Potter could be spotted at every mundane event ever organised. Sirius found it impressive the way all the whispered hurtful comments thrown at her seemed to bounce off her as if they were weightless. He knew different.
He knew every single insult hit home, and that it took a lot of willpower and self-esteem not to let them get to you. He himself had not been able to handle it. After half a decade of being called names and being considered unworthy, he’d had enough. He only thanked his lucky stars that James’ parents had been generous enough to give him a place to stay while he figured out how to deal with the mess running away had left him in. Then again, returning to Hogwarts for his sixth year gave him a reprieve that he was grateful for.
Lost in his thoughts, he didn’t notice his friend walking towards him until the black-haired young wizard was leaning on the wall beside him. He and James spent a while observing the dancing figures before the bespectacled boy spoke up.
“So, how have you been holding up, mate?”
The dog animagus shrugged, his face indifferent. The truth was that he had spent a good part of the night trying to avoid an encounter with his dearest mother. Not that he was afraid of her or anything- he wasn’t a coward, but he simply didn’t feel in the mood for the inevitable spat that would surely follow. He had seen her briefly at the beginning of the night and a glance was all he needed to confirm that she was still the same old prejudiced hag he had left behind about six weeks ago.
Regulus had been at her side and, for a second, the two brothers had stared at each other from their respective spots across the room. Sirius thought he had seen something like regret fleetingly flash in Regulus’ eyes, but it was soon replaced by the burning anger he was far more accustomed to. Apparently, some things didn’t change.
“Well, you know me Prongs. I always have hated those masquerades.” drawled Sirius. “It’s so formal, you would think these people have brooms stuck up their asses.”
“At least you don’t have to greet all these idiots one by one anymore.” said James bitterly.
James let out a huff of annoyance that made Sirius chuckle. His friend usually liked these dances. He got to see some of his parents’ friends that were often too busy with work to pay them a visit at the manor and he sometimes had the chance to meet a few fair ladies that acknowledged his awesomeness, unlike a certain redhead. While it remained mindless flirting, it never went very far because, to Sirius’ dismay and sometimes his own, James always came to realise that his heart belonged to the stubborn girl that made his life so complicated.
Sirius stared at the elitist imbeciles chatting snobbishly before him with even more contempt. Why on earth did Mrs. Potter insist on them sucking up to the very people who thought of Lily Evans as nothing more than dirt under their shoes and of his friend’s family as a disgrace to the wizardry community? It made him positively sick.
“Who’s the new bird?” asked Sirius.
James turned his head in the direction Sirius was pointing. There stood, surrounded by a dozen women of different ages, a girl of about sixteen years old. She was beautiful with her long golden mane and James remembered vaguely being introduced to her, but something in her demeanour had turned him off. She was pretty yes, but there wasn’t any light to her. She was dull and in his eyes that made her almost... insignificant.
“Don’t really know. She and her family just moved here from France. The last name is... er... Something like Doclay or Dorclaw?” mumbled James, confusion evident in his voice.
“Deauclair?” asked Sirius, frowning in thought.
“That’s it. Ring any bells?” said James, his eyes lighting up in recognition.
“Well yeah, the Deauclairs are one of the most prestigious pureblood families of France. Their genealogical tree is Muggle free since at least ten generations which is quite a feat, let me tell you. Even the Blacks can’t compete with that. They’re practically royalty.” said Sirius thoughtfully. The boy then noticed the weird look his companion was giving him and straightened up before crossing his arms defensively. He stared at James defiantly.
“What? If your mother had been as obsessed with blood purity as mine and had made you read Forty-six Sacred names of wizardry European society, you would know as much as I do, alright?” he snapped.
Raising his hands in surrender, James grinned, hoping to make peace with the hot-tempered boy. “Nobody’s judging you Padfoot. I was just surprised, chill out.” he added in an attempt to make amends.
Tension leaving his body, Sirius went back to studying the frail looking girl. Unlike James, he was intrigued by her. She moved with a calculated care, never wasting energy with unnecessary gestures and always keeping her expression neutral, if not absolutely blank. Frowning, he watched as she listened to the austere woman at her side and nodded quietly.
He noticed how her hand curled into a fist briefly before she hid it in the folds of her robes. However, her apparent irritation was never reflected in her eyes, so it went unnoticed by the flock of chattering ladies surrounding her. As if on cue, she then plastered a smile on her lips, but it didn’t reach her eyes.
Sirius’ vantage point was far from where the action was taking place, but he was an experienced liar and he could recognize a mask when he saw one. That chick was putting on a show, and it seemed like she was determined to keep her real emotions to herself, and herself only. He knew the feeling all too well.
Never show fear, never lose control. That had been his motto for the last ten years. Purebloods were predators. They didn’t have friends, they had allies or enemies. Give them power over you and they would have a piece of your soul in their hands. Pureblood princesses usually smiled and laughed to hide their lack of substance. He was under the impression that this Deauclair girl was doing the exact opposite, she dimmed her spirit so no one would get a peek at her soul. It interested him, drew him in.
Was she different? If only he could just talk to her...
“Mayday, mayday! Dammit, look at what is coming our way!” came the alarmed hiss from the boy next to him.
Sirius snapped his head towards what made James freak out so much. He suddenly wished he hadn’t. A young, dark haired woman was making her way purposefully towards them. She was beautiful, but something about the craziness of her hair or the deranged look in her eyes suggested mild dementia and made the hair on Sirius’ neck stand up on end.
He had always known his cousin Bellatrix was rotten to the core, but seeing the smirk contorting her features now, he felt a shiver run down his spine.
“Well, well, what have we got here? If someone had told me this was a charity event, I would have brought some money with me to give to the poor and homeless.” Bellatrix drawled, smiling in the unpleasant way of hers.
Sirius tried to ignore the vicious stab at his disownment and gritted his teeth to hold back the snarky remark he was dying to just spit in her face. Bellatrix surveyed him calmly, waiting for him to burst out with anger. When the explosion didn’t come, her eyes glittered maliciously and Sirius felt James growing tense.
“Then again, they should have known better than to let lost causes in.” she chuckled throatily.
Sirius couldn’t resist. She had made it just too easy. “Well considering that you were able to get in yourself, Bellatrix, they must be pretty tolerant.” he said. As Bellatrix flushed slightly at this, Sirius’ lips stretched in a feral grin.
What he was doing was petty and wouldn’t get him anywhere, but man, did it feel good. After all, one should learn how to enjoy the little things in life. Besides, he’d endured enough of this crap. He wasn’t going to take anymore.
Meanwhile, Bellatrix had finally recovered from her shock.
“I see your little estrangement hasn’t done you any good.” she growled. “You still haven’t learnt any manners. I really don’t understand how you turned out to be such a disappointment. Your poor mother... at least she has Regulus. Maybe he’ll be able to make things right and draw the attention away from his disgrace of a brother. Such a responsibility you left him... big shoes to fill... no wonder he resents you so much. Tell me, to what lengths will he have to go to make everyone forget the shame you have brought onto the family?”
The raven haired woman, clearly indulging in the power she had over him, surveyed his expression closely, looking for any sign of weakness on his part. Determined to stay impassive, Sirius struggled to conceal his feelings and tried to act as if he couldn’t care less.
“How will he save the day and clean up the mess his obnoxious brother, so eager to stain our world with his doubtful opinions and his disreputable choice of friends, made without any consideration for his own kin?” His cousin continued to bait him deliberately.
Fuming, Sirius was about to retort when he felt a hand on his shoulder and turned around to look at James’ face. James might have been an easy-going fellow, but he was a fierce defender of his friends and glancing at him now, Sirius caught a brief glimpse of the proud and honourable man his companion would surely become in the not-so-far future.
“Sirius has done nothing wrong. If anything, it’s his so-called family that has let him down. Since when is it a crime to stand up for what you believe in?” retorted the messy-haired boy hotly.
Bellatrix’ attention shifted rapidly from her cousin to the boy beside him. “How can you possibly ask such a question? Sirius basically destroyed his father, doomed his little brother and broke his mother’s heart.” she sneered contemptuously.
As she finished her sentence, Sirius burst into a fit of bark-like laugher. Concerned, James eyed him warily.
“Well Bella, if that’s all you have against me, then I shall sleep in peace tonight. I cannot be held responsible for the break of something that never existed in the first place. Come on,” choked Sirius, still shaking with laughter. “You and I both know my mother doesn’t have a heart. Spite is the only thing that keeps her warm at night.”
Bellatrix was silent for a few seconds, and then she smiled in a way that could only mean trouble. Her eyes roamed over the room quickly and she bent a little forward, forcing James to step back a bit so that she wouldn’t touch him.
“Laugh all you want Sirius, but don’t rejoice too much. If you think you’ve won then you’re a fool. Regulus knows his place and now that you’re gone, he’ll be even more determined to prove his worth. Maybe I should send you flowers after all. Thanks to you we’ll soon be granted a new, dedicated follower.” she said smirking darkly.
With faint surprise, Sirius found that his mouth was suddenly very dry. He exchanged a quick glance with James. What exactly was the lunatic ranting about?
“What do you mean?” Sirius asked, trying to ignore the gut-clenching feeling that was suddenly threatening to overwhelm him.
“Ah, come on Sirius, don’t play dumb. I know you know. Don’t worry, I’ll assist Regulus in every way I can. In fact, I won’t ever leave him alone. We don’t want him to go down the wrong road, do we?” whispered his cousin with a twisted smirk.
“You stay AWAY from him, you sadistic bitch!” snarled Sirius baring his teeth.
“Now now, Sirius calm down. Are you actually going to pretend you care?” said Bellatrix, with a tone of delirious mirth.
Before he could muster a reply, a deep gravelly voice interrupted the argument. Looking up, Sirius found himself staring into the eyes of one irritated Charlus Potter.
“Just what is going on here? You’re making quite a disturbance.” the older man said in a disapproving voice.
Sirius was, all of a sudden, extremely aware of the curious glances that were being cast their way.
Facing the young witch, Charlus Potter put on a fatherly expression and added, “I expected that much from my boys, they’re known to be quite the pranksters, but my dear Bellatrix, I would have thought that a well-educated pureblood lady like you would know her manners.”
“Well, you would know a lot about pureblood etiquette, dear Uncle.” hissed Bellatrix.
The obvious jab and the apparent disgust that was evident in her tone didn’t faze the tall wizard in the least, who went on smiling genially. “Coming from a family as respected as mine has a few ups and many lows, I’m afraid. Perfection is expected from us. It’s a burden everyone bearing the name of Potter has to shoulder at an early age. Being praised and having your every single gesture scrutinised by the public can be quite overwhelming and in these conditions, it’s hard not to let your head inflate out of proportions.” said Mr. Potter gazing pointedly at his son, who had the grace to look remotely ashamed. Little did his father know that by keeping his head down, James was hiding a smug smirk.
Mr. Potter’s expression darkened as he addressed Bellatrix again, his voice gaining a dangerous edge, even while his expression remained pleasant. Sirius shuddered slightly as he realized that, even though Charlus Potter might seem just as easy-going as his son, he still was a pureblood wizard and was therefore well versed in the art of intimidation.
“However, even though such eccentricities are somewhat endearing, let’s not forget ourselves. Arrogance isn’t a pretty sight for anyone and some people might do well to remember their place.” said Mr. Potter.
Bellatrix might have lost a few of her marbles, but even Sirius had to admit she was painfully intelligent. The tall woman quickly caught on the menacing undertone the conversation had gotten and, wild locks flying everywhere, she took her leave, leering at the two teenagers as she did so. As soon as she was out of sight, James let out a sigh and, grinning like the idiot he was, pulled Sirius into a one-armed hug.
“It seems like we once again dodged a spell, my friend. No offence, but your whole family is a bit on the crazy side, Padfoot.” exclaimed James, shaking his head in mock sadness.
“Tell me about it.” snorted Sirius.
An irritated huff was then heard and the young wizards were reminded of the presence of the man who, to be frank, had just saved their sorry asses. Sheepishly, they turned around and automatically switched the charm on.
Unfortunately, even though it usually worked on girls, with the exception of one Lily Evans, Charlus wasn’t impressed and the puppy eyes were met with a stern look.
“I thought I had made myself clear?” said Charlus Potter, in an exasperated manner.
“Well, Dad you see…” started James. “It’s not like we actually wanted to see her ugly mug. I mean, I could get myself a much better bird, if I actually put some effort into it. Honestly, have you seen my fa-”
His father, knowing his son could go on for hours babbling about his so-called gorgeousness, interrupted him before it got out of hand. “James, I don’t want to hear it.” he briskly said.
“Mr P. I swear to Merlin, we didn’t look for trouble this time. She went straight for us without any sort of warning.” insisted Sirius trying to get James out of the hot spot.
“Yeah, she was like a hawk, let me tell you.” added James, nodding like a madman.
“In fact, she’s more of a dog, Prongs.” answered Sirius, with an amused smirk.
“Haha! Good one Pad!” James chortled as he clapped him on the back.
Exasperated, Mr. Potter pinched the bridge of his nose. Had he known that becoming a father of two troublemaking boys would be so, well... troublesome, he would seriously have considered the idea more pessimistically when his wife had expressed her desire to have children. As soon as the thought crossed his mind though, he snorted and shook his head. What was he talking about? James’ birth had been the happiest event of his entire life and even though Sirius was not one of his own, he would gladly tell anyone who asked that the young man was his second son.
He interrupted the teenagers before they started to gain attention from the crowd again, shooed them away and, as he watched them excitedly cross the room with mischievous grins, a smile graced his features. He wouldn’t be surprised if, despite his warnings, an innocent bystander went home sporting electric blue hair tonight.
However, as appealing as the perspective of humiliating one or two aristocrats was, the boys unfortunately did not have access to the appropriated ingredients to brew a hair color-changing potion during the summer break. Mrs. Potter made sure to hide away all of her apothecary stock before their arrival and they still had not managed to break through the wards she had protected her storeroom with.
Disgruntled, they had to settle for a less extravagant prank, and before coming to the ball they had taken advantage of Mr. Potter’s afternoon doze to nick a few bottles of Firewhiskey from his cabinet. Hell-bent on spiking the punch, the young wizards made their way through the crowd trying to be as conspicuous as possible which, given their history as pranksters, wasn’t that big of a deal.
Without a word, James set off to keep watch while Sirius approached the buffet table. The boy appraised the food displayed before him and his gaze locked on the plate of little sandwiches. Merlin, did he love those! Knowing James would keep the unwanted at bay, Sirius allowed himself a few seconds to stuff as much of the exquisite goodness as he could in his mouth.
Being the great friend he was, he remembered to store a dozen or so into his pockets for James to eat later on, preferably after the feat was done. Swallowing with difficulty, Sirius went back to the bowl of punch and, with practiced ease, withdrew a hundred years old bottle of Firewhiskey from the confines of his robes.
He uncorked it but before he tipped the bottle, he hesitated. Suddenly, the thought of wasting such fine nectar on idiots like Regulus or crazies like Bellatrix didn’t seem so appealing anymore. Eying the amber liquid with envy, Sirius was seriously, no pun intended, considering taking a sip directly from the bottle before dumping it in the punch when a feminine voice interrupted his musing.
“Are you going to pour it in or not?”
The boy raised his head and was met with the sight of the lone figure of Amelia Deauclair. The girl had silently crept behind him and now stood quietly by his side, staring at him with practiced disinterest.
With so little space between them, Sirius could make out the golden color of her eyes glistening like light honey. The fire from the torch on the nearest wall illuminated her and tendrils of hair framing her face gleamed in the flickering light making it look like her mane had a life of its own.
“Um.” Sirius stammered, rather unintelligently. His eyes quickly found James and he barely suppressed the groan that rose deep in his throat. A few feet from where he was currently standing, James struggled to escape from the death grip his great-aunt Eleanor had on his arm.
From the constipated look on his friend’s face, Sirius understood that fleeing was easier said than done; it seemed like he truly was on his own. Sighing, Sirius turned back to Amelia, noting that she was still observing him closely; she seemed to have caught him glancing at the now reddening James, for a ghost of a smile graced her lips.
“I would not count on him to come to your rescue. Last I heard, Lady Burbridge was questioning him about a certain duck that would have find itself sitting on her head after someone had skilfully transfigured her hat at her late birthday party. She seemed quite adamant about finding the culprit and bringing him to justice.” Amelia said softly, but with amusement lacing her tone.
Deciding the safest way to handle this sticky situation was to sweet talk his way out of it, he played along. “Well, she should have known better than to show up with that atrocity on top of her head. If you want my thoughts on the matter, she was better off with the duck. At least people started laughing in her face instead of behind her back.”
“You sure have an interesting way of putting things.” replied the girl. Turning her back to the chattering crowd, she faced the buffet table and eyed it with a speculative look. Intrigued as to where this was going, Sirius followed suit and they found themselves side by side, effectively hiding the bowl of punch from view, a fact that did not go unnoticed by the young wizard.
“So…” said Amelia, her hand casually hovering over the little sandwiches as if she could not quite decide if taking one was advisable. “Now that you have been found out, what’s your back up plan?”
“Back up plan?” asked Sirius, while handing her a napkin.
“When one plots a misdeed and is caught red-handed, it is expected that he has a way to get himself out of trouble.” she said casually, wrapping the sandwich in the offered napkin and concealing it in her sleeve. “Well, if he is any good, that is.” she added as an afterthought.
“Why, I really don’t know what you are talking about, milady. Has someone done anything that goes against morals? Do tell me who the miscreant is and I will personally remind him of his manners!” exclaimed the wizard, hand clutching at his chest dramatically.
Amelia turned her head towards him and tilted it slightly, which, Sirius thought, would have been far more appealing if her eyes didn’t look so dead. “Denial. I see you are not new to this. Good. Unfortunately for you, Mister...” she looked at him pointedly at this.
“Black.” supplied Sirius helpfully, humoring her for the moment as he really doubted that his name was something she didn’t already know.
“Unfortunately for you, Mr. Black,” she emphasised, “I am neither blind nor stupid and the fact is, I clearly saw you about to spike this drink. I am not about to let you off the hook so easily and I am curious as to how you plan to get yourself out of this mess.” she told him.
Sirius helped himself to a couple of cube-shaped pieces of cheese and popped one into his mouth, acknowledging her with a vague noise of approval. “…by admitting that you are right and that I, hypothetically of course, found myself stuck in such a situation?” Sirius paused and stared at her meaningfully.
“Hypothetically, of course.” she drawled in a bored fashion, making the corner of his lips twitch upwards with the sudden urge to grin.
“I would then be faced with two options. Either dispose of the evidence or bribe the eyewitness. This is without saying, hypothetically assuming that the person that busted me is willing to snitch on me.” he continued, keeping his voice as even as possible.
“Ah, that is to be considered indeed.” she mused. “Let’s say, for the benefit of this study of the human psychology, that the witness in question is bounded by the rules of etiquette and has no other option but to... as you said it... snitch.”
“Pity. I was under the impression that said witness, even if she tried to cover it up, didn’t take well to people dictating her decisions.” he breathed, all of a sudden feeling daring.
He wasn’t disappointed as, the moment the words left his lips, Amelia’s eyes snapped in his direction, anger flashing in their depths for a second before she schooled her expression into one of indifference. “It seems your impressions have fooled you, Mr. Black. You might want to think again before you babble nonsense and remember just who you are talking to.” she replied with such coldness that he was surprised the punch didn’t freeze over.
“Touchy subject, is it?” he dropped his voice and pinned her mercilessly with his gaze. “I am the master of shutting off feelings, darling. It will take more than a stoic face, a bored tone and icy eyes for me to buy it.”
To his astonishment, she didn’t shy away from him or lower her glare- she stood up to him with squared shoulders. Suddenly, a dangerous smirk, its intensity rivalling that of Bellatrix’s, appeared on her face and the boy had to resist the urge to take a step back.
It was quite the transformation, but it certainly wasn’t what Sirius had been waiting for. However, the weird glint was gone as quickly as it had come and, in a blink of an eye, was replaced with dull satisfaction.
“It seems like they were right, you are far too hot-blooded for your own good.” she whispered softly.
“They?” questioned Sirius, rather shaken by the sudden shift of events.
“I met your... relatives.” she hesitated, after thinking her words through. She raised an eyebrow at him and continued on with a sneer. “Your mother is quite opinionated. And loud. I learned more about you that I ever wanted to.”
“Then you must have been thrilled to hear about my disownment.” retorted Sirius, feeling oddly calm about his situation all of a sudden. Amelia’s stare was uncaring and she dismissively waved his comment away.
“Well, you have been quite the disgrace.” she said distractedly, busying herself with a clasp of her robes that had somehow become undone. The insult was said in such a manner that the marauder surprisingly didn’t find himself offended by it. She was merely stating a fact, it seemed.
“Then again, you came to converse with me regardless of my reputation.” He spoke his thought as it occurred to him.
She raised her head and nodded blankly at his statement. “That I did.” she admitted simply.
Refusing to let the matter go, Sirius invaded her personal space, forcing her to look up at him. “Why?” he asked, genuinely confounded, letting his eyes roam her features in search of an answer. He practically growled in frustration when he realized she had closed off completely, apparently using his fleeting moment of discomposure to gather herself.
“I was curious. That’s all. For someone that everyone wants to forget as quickly as possible, it seems like your name is still on everybody’s lips.” she huffed.
“You are going to have to try harder than that.” Sirius said harshly. He didn’t like it when someone was underestimating his intelligence and if that girl really thought she could play with him that way, she was going to have a bad wake up call.
His harsh tone seemed to ruffle her and for once, genuine anger could be heard in her voice. “Well maybe I simply could not bear being subjected to Mr. Malfoy’s bragging about his so-called worthiness and wealth for another second. I have had enough of people thinking they can get in my good graces by flaunting their heritage in my face every chance they’ve got. I mean, does he honestly believe I would be impressed by him owning bloody albino peacocks!?” Suddenly, she clamped a hand over her mouth in horror, before lowering it to her side and closing her eyes.
Sirius found that he felt a twisted sense of achievement by having been able to irritate her enough for her to drop her pretence. This was probably the closest he was going to get to her true self before she regained composure and he took a moment to observe her, hair seemingly crackling with electricity, eyelids flustering and nostrils flaring slightly as she took deep calming breaths.
He caught himself thinking he quite liked the agitated version of Amelia Deauclair. Anything was better than the dead air she had around her before anyway.
“You know,” he said, not wanting her too embarrassed, “if he annoyed you that much, you could just tell him to go die in a hole somewhere. It’s not like you’re incapable of doing so, you snapped at me just now.” he smiled. “In your defence, I was being a bit of a jerk.”
“We cannot all be freelancers, Black.” Amelia answered crisply, still refusing to look at him.
Leaning in, he brought his lips to her ear. “Doesn’t mean you’re not dying to.” he murmured. He smirked when she opened her eyes with a start and flinched away from him with a scowl on her face. Sirius almost laughed then and there, it was so much fun.
“There is such a thing as a personal space, Mr Black, that you do not seem aware of. I will not condone your attempts at invading my intimacy.” she lectured him severely.
“Spoken as a true Pureblood lady! Bravo, milady.” Sirius joked, saucy grin in place.
“Acted like a true brute, Black. Congratulations,” the girl deadpanned. She looked as if she was struggling not to put her hands on her hips in an irritated manner, a fact that was greatly contributing to the boy’s amusement.
“It seems like we’ve reached a stalemate.” said Sirius finally breaking the silence that was growing uncomfortably between the two of them.
“It would seem so.” came the quick reply. Since it didn’t appear like she was going to make the first move, Sirius generously decided to be the one to bury the hatchet. Irking her was hilarious enough, but it would only get him so far and his purpose was to see what she was truly made of, not aggravate her to death.
He took a step back and deliberately broke eye contact, putting an end to the staring contest this encounter had turned into. He looked over his shoulder and rolled his eyes at James who, backed up against the wall, was still trying to fend off his batty great aunt with an irritated air.
Sirius then busied himself with the food in front of him, promptly ignoring the girl standing next to him. As he doubted she was used to someone giving her the cold shoulder, he figured that giving her space was the best way to get a reaction out of her. As always, he was right.
“You forgot one.” she said dispassionately, her tone back to her habitual bored drone.
“Forgot what?” he asked mimicking her blank stare, honestly dumbfounded by her sudden change of subject.
“When you were telling me about your options. Your backup plans in case of discovery.” she added when he met her gaze, confusion written all over his face. “You said you could either get rid of the incriminating evidence or buy the witness’ secrecy.”
“Well, I could also do both, I suppose, but...” he trailed off, finally catching the pointed look she was directing at him from under her golden bangs. His eyebrows shot up in genuine surprise. Was she actually suggesting... a smirk slowly made its way onto his face. “Let’s not go ahead of ourselves, missy. I don’t know what the hell you’re trying to prove, but let me tell you, this stuff isn’t for everyone,” he mocked her, gesturing to the sadly still full bottle of Firewhiskey. “I don’t want to be the one held responsible for your actions when you start making a fool of yourself, only because you suddenly decided you wanted to act like a bloody big shot. I’ve already have enough problems of my own.”
At this she sneered contemptuously. “You seem to be under the impression, Mr. Black, that I cannot hold my liquor.” she tossed her hair back haughtily. “Now, I don’t know how English witches are brought up, but in France it is expected of a lady to be able to hold her own when it comes to drinking. After all, our wine is among the best there is and it flows freely in receptions like these. What kind of wife would one be if she embarrassed her husband every time she had a glass or two?”
Stunned into silence, Sirius stared at her haughty figure for a while before he shook himself out of his daze. Well, if she wanted to play it that way... “Be my guest then.” he said with a grin.
And for the first time that night, Amelia’s eyes shone with a hint of life.