The Whomping Willow
The two of them set off in the opposite direction and quickly crossed the quiet main street of Hogsmeade. It was near five o'clock in the afternoon - the sun had started to set and most students were returning to Hogwarts. Not everyone though. When they passed Honeydukes, the door of the sweetshop opened and out came a laughing Remus and Peter, their bags bulging with a wide collection of magical sweets. "Hello," Remus said.
"Hi," Sirius replied, but Mary just gave him a shy wave. She was finding it difficult to act normal around Remus now, because she hadn't really had a conversation with him ever since she found out the truth.
Peter was rummaging around in his bag and after a moment he pulled out a bag of sinister-looking black sweets.
"What are those?" Sirius asked curiously.
"Cockroach Crunchies." He opened the bag and put one of the Crunchies in his mouth. "Hmmm, not bad."
Sirius arched an eyebrow, amused, and Mary stared at Peter with an such an incredulous look on her face that it made Remus snort with laughter. "Wormtail was getting bored with the common sweets and wanted to have a go at the unusual tastes section."
Peter laughed. "It's just a change of scenery," he said after swallowing the blackened piece of candy. "I have bought more, though." He started looking again and eventually pulled out a red-colored lollypop. "You know, I've always wondered how these would taste," putting the red tip in his mouth.
"Like what?" Mary asked anxiously.
"Blood. Oddly enough though, it's not that weird as you might think." He reached for another lollypop in the bag and held it out to her. "Here, you should try it."
Mary, who had been staring at Peter, glanced at Sirius – he rolled his eyes but was smiling - and back at Peter. "Thanks Pete, but I think I'll pass."
He shrugged and put the lollypop back into his bag. "Suit yourself."
Sirius clapped him on the shoulder. "I hope you'll enjoy yourself with those sweets, Wormtail. I guess we'll see you guys back at school. Later, Moony," he said, pulling Mary along by the hand.
"Bye," Remus replied and he and Peter started on their way back to the castle while Sirius and Mary turned into the small alley on their right, which was situated right next to Honeydukes.
Mary was still trying to figure out why someone would voluntarily eat weird things like cockroach crunchies and vampire lollypops. "Honestly, I know Peter likes food, but blood-flavored lollypops?"
Sirius snorted. "When it comes to Wormtail's affection for food, nothing surprises me anymore. Especially after learning he thinks Wizard's Haggis is the best dish in the world."
"Isn't that the stomach of a Kelpie filled with minced meat?"
"I wouldn't know. I've never tried it myself, but if Peter says it's good… I guess we'd better stay away miles from it. Oh look, we're here."
Mary looked around the beautiful hilly meadow they had walked into. It was a magnificent picture which could have come straight out of a book of a Winter fairytale. There was an iced pond in the middle surrounded by large trees. The branches of the trees were topped with a fresh layer of snow, looking like someone had put a rich amount of iced sugar on them. Not that there was any part of the meadow that didn't look familiar to Mary. "Hang on," she said as she began to understand what was going on. "I know this field."
Sirius, standing a few feet away with his hands in his pockets, nodded as he looked over the field. "Yeah, I thought you might."
"This is our meadow. I mean, this is where I, Lily, Brice and Alison have been hanging out on Hogsmeade weekends for years."
"How come?" she asked suspiciously.
"Well, for one this field is not all that large, so anyone can see it from the main street and second, do you see that cot over there?" He pointed over to a distant shed in a nearby field. "That's where we used to hang out."
"You guys were spying on us?"
Sirius laughed. "If that's what you'd like to call it. I had nothing to do with it to be honest. Most of the time James just wanted to keep an eye on Lily and the guys she was seeing. Thankfully, Lily preferred studying over dating most of the time. Well, unless you count that Durmstrang exchange student, what was his name again?"
"Dimitri Morvatsjov," Mary replied as she pulled a bit of snow from a nearby bush and sneakily started to form a large snowball behind her back. "So you have been spying on us for years and you never had the decency to tell me?"
"I'm telling you now, aren't I-" Sirius replied in a mock-indignant tone, but he was quickly got cut off by her snowball. It was a full-blown hit in the face which made his hair stand up in all directions.
Mary giggled. "Now you look just like James!"
"Why you little…" Sirius said in a threatening voice, but it was only in a half-hearted tone as he tried to shake the snow from his hair. His response was quick nevertheless. He had formed a snowball in his hands in only a few seconds second and chucked it straight at Mary, who shrieked and dodged before running away. Snowballs were hitting her left and centre as she laughed hysterically and struggled to reach the other side of field and find shelter between the trees.
But she never made it that far. Before she realized what was happening, Sirius tackled her from behind. Mary dropped to the ground on her stomach with a thud. She was firmly being held by Sirius, but she refused to give up that easily. She managed to reach for a handful of snow, flipped around on her back and cast it in Sirius's face, who was towering over her.
They were both laughing as they continued their struggle until he finally managed to pin her hands on the floor next to her face. He came up slightly, his legs straddling her waist, and shook his head in another feeble attempt to get the snow out of his eyes.
Both of them were panting slightly. Mary's cheeks were red of the cold and appeared to be sprinkled with tiny snowflakes. Sirius, who by now had ceased laughing, slowly lowered his hand to her face and gently wiped one of them off her cheekbone. They looked in each other's eyes for a brief moment and this time, there was no hesitation. Sirius leaned down and kissed her.
Truth be told, it was by far the best first kiss Mary ever had. Apparently she had temporarily forgotten who or where she was, even that they were laying on top of each other in the ice cold snow. For all she knew, several feet of the whiteness surrounding them was melting fast because of the heat they were spreading. All that mattered was continuing this amazing kiss, which – if it was up to Mary – would never stop.
Although it lasted very long indeed, even the most wonderful kisses must come to an end eventually. When Sirius finally pulled back, Mary did not open her eyes immediately. She just lay back, relaxing for a moment, and only opened her eyes when Sirius was gently tucking a lock of hair from her face.
When she finally looked up at him, she suddenly noticed the setting sun was illuminating the golden streaks in his grey eyes, making them even more enchanting. Mary realized how much had now changed between them. This kiss had been in the air for so long and now that it had finally happened, the atmosphere between them was definitely different. "Hi," she whispered.
He smiled and kissed the tip of her nose. "I've wanted to do that for over two years."
She giggled. "What, kissing my nose?"
"Yeah that, and this." He softly kissed her on the forehead, her cheeks and worked his way down by ending somewhere down her neck.
Mary responded by leaning on her elbows and kissing Sirius's neck, breathing in deeply as she did so, so that she could enjoy that musky smell she had come to love so much. She then kissed Sirius gently on the lips before working her way to his left ear, sucked on his earlobe and ended by gently blowing inside. Sirius groaned quietly before kissing her again (more passionately this time) and, when the two of them came up for air, he pulled her back to her feet.
When Mary stood up, she noticed her legs had turned all wobbly again and she literally had to lean onto Sirius for a moment to remain standing. "Are you okay?" he asked.
"Yeah, fine," she replied and they looked at each other. This time it was Mary taking the initiative for starting another kiss which lasted several minutes and when they finally broke apart, Sirius looked around and tried to check the time on the clock in the shop window of Honeydukes. When he noticed the time, he stiffened slightly. "Bullocks."
"What is it?"
"It's almost six."
"Come on, hurry!" Sirius grabbed Mary's hand again and they started to make a run for it. They sprinted to the school entrance, but by the time they had reached them, the gates were already closed. "Oh crap!" Mary cried, panicking slightly.
Sirius didn't reply and merely looked from the gates to Hogsmeade and back.
"Sirius!" Mary called. "Now what? There's no way of getting back into school without getting caught by Filch or one of the Professors."
A grin was slowly creeping onto his face. "Not necessarily."
"What do you mean?"
"It's gonna be fine," he said reassuringly. "Just do as I say and Apparate to the Shrieking Shack."
She stared at him. "Trust me," Sirius said, reaching for her hand. "Disapparate and I'll see you there, OK?" He gave her a kiss and disapparated with a pop.
Mary, feeling like she did not have much a choice, visualized the old cottage as her destination and turned on the spot. Once the unpleasant spinning and feeling of compression started to fade away, she was standing in the Shrieking Shack. Sirius was already there and currently examining the very kitchen door that had interrupted their "rendez-vous" earlier that day.
"What are you doing?"
"Checking if this door can be mended. By the looks of it, Moony's last outburst has been the final blow. Not that it matters much… However, now you're here, I'm going to show you something else. But again… Keep it a secret."
Mary nodded, half-afraid, half-curious about what was coming next. Sirius walked to the hallway and she followed him. Right before the stairway there was a large hatch in the floor. Sirius opened it and jumped inside, leaving Mary behind in the eerie Shrieking Shack. She was just considering to jump in there after him when she heard Sirius saying: "So, how long exactly were you planning to keep me waiting?"
Mary peered into the dark hole of the hatch. "Where are you? I cannot see you."
"I'm right here. Just jump. It's not that deep and I won't drop you, promise."
Mary carefully let herself slide into the hatch. When she let go of the ledge, Sirius slipped his arms around her waist. He carefully lowered her steadily to the ground, but unlike that time on the train, she didn't stiffen. Instead, as soon as her feet had touched the cool earth on the ground, she turned around and kissed him once again. "Thanks", she said breathlessly when they broke apart. "Care to fill me in on where we are exactly?"
"Naturally," Sirius replied as he pulled out his wand and muttered Lumos. When Mary had also illuminated the tip of her wand, they started walking. "Keep in mind that parts of this passage are narrow, so watch your head."
While they were slowly crossing the dark and bumpy passage, Sirius explained its purpose. "So every time we want to visit Moony, we'll go this way."
"Where does the passage lead to?"
"Er… Good question. You know that tall tree with moving branches on the school grounds?"
Mary stopped walking for a moment. "The Whomping Willow?"
"This gate is supposed to be safely guarded, shouldn't it?"
"I guess so, But how can we get past that tree without getting hurt?"
"By placing this stick-" He raised a large stick he had picked up near the entrance of the passage. "-Against the trunk."
He climbed out of the passage first and after a few seconds, the sound of sweeping branches stopped abruptly. Mary climbed through the hole and Sirius pulled her out of the passage. "Now go and wait over there as I remove the stick."
Not feeling like getting beat up by a bad-tempered magical willow tree, Mary hurried to a safer spot a little further up the hill. Sirius removed the stick with apparent ease – he obviously had done it before – and joined her to run towards the castle together.
Lucky for them, they didn't run in on anyone on their way back to the Common Room except Peeves (and they managed to avoid a confrontation by taking a quick detour). When they were finally crawling through the portrait hole, they walked straight into a stressed-looking James. "There you are! I was about to raise the alarm. Why didn't you tell us what time you would be back?"
Sirius snorted. "I didn't know I had to, dad."
For a moment James kept glaring at them, but he failed to keep a straight face for long. "So how did you manage to get back here?" he asked, sniggering.
Sirius elaborated on their unexpected and adventurous detour through the passage, but Mary's eyes had found Lily and Brice who were sitting in their usual spots near the fireplace. Lily was smiling and waved. Mary felt she didn't want to wait a minute longer to tell her friends about her first kiss with Sirius. She squeezed his hand, smiled at him and then walked over to her friends.
"So..." Lily said with a quasi-stern look on her face. "Where have you been all this time?"
Mary smiled. "We just lost track of the hour. I'm sorry Lil, we should have told you, but no one saw us coming in late, so everything should be fine. You and James won't be in any trouble for it either."
Her best friend burst out laughing and gave Mary a friendly punch. "That's quite alright. Besides, you're in love!"
"Yeah." Mary cast a look over her shoulder and glanced at Sirius, who was still quietly talking to James. When she turned back to Lily and Brice, the grin on her face could not be any bigger. "Yeah, I guess I am."
~*~ End of Chapter ~*~