The Big Reveal
The first few week after their date, Sirius felt like being on top of the world. Being in love, actually falling for someone and wanting to spend time with them as much as possible, was a feeling he was experiencing for the first time. Before, once a girl he was dating was hanging around too much and became too clingy, he could not get away fast enough.
But this time things were different. Sirius wished he could be with Mary throughout the day, but considering being a seventh year student meant their timetable was unrelentingly demanding, doing so was easier said than done. Combining the never-ending stream of class assignments with the fact they were both assisting James and Lily with the preparations for the New Years Eve party and Sirius also had to train for the upcoming Quidditch match against Hufflepuff (which Gryffindor won, but only just), mean he was seeing her not nearly as much as he would like.
Still, they did cherish every minute they spent together. One night Sirius even persuaded Mary to accompany him to a broom cupboard, something she had resented for years.
All in all Sirius was quite surprised he had fallen in love with someone as much as he did. He had always imagined something like this happened to people like James and his everlasting obsession with Lily, but now he was also acting like - as Peter called it - a fool in love.
His joking friend had a point, though, as Sirius soon learned it was very difficult to pay attention to anything non Mary-related. Right now for example, he was in Transfiguration class and supposed to be listening to McGonagall explaining how to transfigure the back of a cow into a chair (and back). But he happened to sit next to Mary and was not hearing a single word of the Professor's speech. Instead, he had focused on wrapping a long string of her long hair around his finger for the last few minutes.
The corners of Mary's mouth - who was still trying to pay attention to McGonagall by staring at their Professor in a deadly focused manner - slowly began to rise and then twitched. She then giggled quietly while trying to "free" her hair from Sirius's finger. "Stop that," she whispered.
"Why?," he whispered in return. "I happen to like getting wrapped in your hair like this. It's so soft and warm. Come to think of it, as long as you're around, I'll never have to wear gloves again."
Mary snorted. "But unlike some people I know-" she shot Sirius a knowing look "-some of us still have to learn about transfiguring things. So…"
"Mr. Black!" McGonagall's voice was cutting through the classroom. "Could you desist on playing around with Miss Woods' hair here? And if I hear one more sound from either of you, you shall be spending this week's nights separately in my office instead of together in your Common Room. Have I made myself clear?"
"Yes, Professor,"a blushing Mary said, looking embarrassed as she stared down at the table.
Sirius on the other hand, who was having trouble to keep a straight face, merely nodded and sat up straight. But the minute McGonagall turned back to something to Merthin Abbott, he quickly leaned over to Mary to whisper: "That was basically the only threat McGonagall can throw at me. Spending every night of the week without you, I don't think I'd survive."
Mary couldn't help but grin foolishly in return. "Me neither."
According to Sirius things simply just could not get any better. There was only one major but. Remus still refused to share his secret with Lily and Brice and Sirius noticed that Mary was finding it more difficult every day to keep this information from her friends.
She hated lying and at the moment, whenever the subject on Remus's mysterious illness came up, Mary was forced to either tell them a lie or flee the room. And she was not happy about it. In fact, she had barely spoken a word to Remus ever since finding out his secret. Remus had briefly suspected Mary of being afraid of werewolves after all, but Sirius knew better than that.
The fact remained Remus had to talk to her sooner or later before things would start falling apart. Something told him that Mary would not be able to keep lying to Lily and Brice forever and he and James believed the truth should come from Remus and not from them or Mary.
On a particular late afternoon Sirius decided to discuss this with Mary in the Common Room while James, Lily and the others were talking about the New Year's Eve party and he and Mary were stretched out on the couch near the fire. She was reading a book on the healing qualities of the Asfaloth plant. Her head was resting on his chest and he had been playing with her hair. After checking that Remus was still engaged in a discussion with Lily on which kind of faerie lights were best for outdoor use, he softly nudged Mary. "Hmm?" she said, looking up from her book.
"I was wondering," he said while gently caressing her cheek with his thumb. Already knowing the answer, he asked: "How are you holding up with keeping Remus's secret?"
Mary shrugged. "It's difficult," she said after a pause. "Lily and Brice definitely know something's up. To be honest, I'm not sure how much longer I can keep this up."
"I just don't understand why Remus doesn't want to tell them," Mary said as she tiredly rubbed her forehead.
"Well…" Sirius replied thoughtfully. "It's not like everything between you and Remus has been great ever since you found out."
"What's that supposed to mean?" she snapped, sitting up straight.
"Shhh, keep your voice down!" he hissed. "It's just… You've hardly talked to him since you know about the… furry little problem."
"That's because I'm trying to protect him, you know that!"
"You know that and I know too, but Remus doesn't."
"Well, tell him then. Explain why I'm acting the way I am."
"I've tried, he doesn't believe me. Mare, I really you should talk to him. And soon too, before everything comes out the wrong way."
Mary bit her lip for a moment. "Fine, I'll give it a try.
Mary stayed true to her word and talked to Remus the very next day, who finally came to understand why she had been acting aloof, but Remus still felt he was not ready to tell the other girls the truth. He managed to persuade a reluctant Mary to keep his secret a little while longer, although she did warn him that Brice and Lily were anything but retarded and would start figuring things out on their own soon enough.
It was the week before Christmas and all the fourth year students (and older) were getting more excited about the New Year's Eve party every day. There were rumors this was going to be the most spectacular event Hogwarts had seen in years.
Students in the corridors were speculating about the possibility of James convincing Headmaster Dumbledore to let Hagrid catch a bunch of dragons and put them right next to the school gates. James neither admitted nor denied those assumptions. He figured it would add some mystery and buzz in the weeks leading up to the party.
Nevertheless, he and Lily were almost constantly working on organizing the party. Even at dinner time they were always rustling with an ever-growing pile of notes, scribbling down notes on parchment. At the moment Lily was considering to place someone at the Entrance Hall who would have to keep track of the guest list. "What do you guys think? Wouldn't that add some Hollywood glamour to the party?"
"Yeah, I guess so, but who-" Mary started before getting cut off by James.
"-Holywodd? What in the name of Merlin is that?"
"Hollywood James, and it's this place in America where they make movies and many famous actors and actresses reside," Lily attempted to explain.
"Movies…" James said, shooting Sirius a confused look.
"Simply compare them to wizarding photographs but then with sound and…" Lily broke off at his blank stare. "Mare, help me out here," she groaned pleadingly.
Mary chuckled as she was finishing her soup. "Forget it, I'm not even going to try."
Lily sighed. "Never mind. But James, wouldn't it be cool to have someone stand at the door who keeps track of the guest list?"
James frowned. "I suppose so. But who should do it? One of the Professors?"
"No, a student, I think."
"And who did you have in mind? All of us already have tasks."
"Good point," Lily mumbled and she started to consult her notes. "Hmmm, this could be a problem."
"How about Alison?" Peter suggested.
They all looked at Peter in surprise, who blushed. It was the first time he was making a suggestion for their party. "I… I mean," he stuttered, "I know she's not in Gryffindor, but she does hang with us occasionally and… Well, and isn't a doorwoman supposed to be a bit bitchy?"
Remus snorted. "Alison sounds perfect for the job."
Lily chewed on the back of her quill for a moment, considering this new possibility. "Yes," she said after another pause. "That could definitely work. I happen to know she's staying over at Hogwarts next month, so I could ask her then."
Since they were determined to organize the party in the best possible way, James and Lily had decided to spend Christmas at Hogwarts. This meant that Sirius had no choice but to also stay at school. After all, going back to his parents place was not an option and now that James wasn't going home, he couldn't go the Potters residence either.
Sirius would have preferred to spend some time away from Hogwarts, but having already accepted his "fate", he was slightly surprised when Mary announced she had to discuss something with him after dinner. When she pulled him behind a pillar of the Entrance Hall, Sirius realized she was looking rather nervous.
"What's this all about?" he asking, laughing while gently slipping his arms around her waist.
"I've been thinking about something," she started hesitantly. "I know you originally made plans to spend Christmas with the Potters, but now that James and Lily are staying at school this year, I was wondering… Well eh… You could also come home with me, if you like."
Sirius felt his jaw drop. He was momentarily too gobsmacked to say anything at all. Mary - who was looking at him - drew the wrong conclusion, stared at the floor and said quietly: "I should have known… It's way too soon. Of course you wouldn't want to…"
It was almost impossible to describe how much Mary's words meant to Sirius or the odd and head-spinning sensation of his blood racing through his veins. Was it love? He had never felt it before, but reckoned that if this was how true love felt, he never wanted to go on without it in the future. He slowly lifted Mary's chin so she was forced to look him straight in the eye. "That sounds like the best idea I heard in days," he said.
"Really?" She leaned up and kissed him happily. When they broke apart, her eyes were twinkling and she was smiling. "You don't mind meeting my parents?"
He gave her a another kiss before saying: "I would love to."
"Alright then. In that case I'd better inform my mother that I'm bringing someone back with me. They're about as Muggle as you can get, so please don't mind their ignorance about our world."
Sirius shrugged. "I've never been to an all Muggle-family before. It should be fascinating." He snorted. "Peter is going to be so jealous!"
They laughed and walked to the Common Room together, keeping their hands linked all the way.
Over the next few days, Sirius and Peter continued to try and talk sense into Remus, who finally admitted that it was indeed better to share his secret with Lily and Brice himself instead of them finding out on their own, like Mary had done. Remus decided he was finally going to confide in the other girls as soon as the holidays were over.
The next evening Sirius and the other guys were hanging out in the Common Room. The girls had already retired to bed, but they remained downstairs for another while to finish their game of Exploding Snap. They were the only students left downstairs and had the entire place to themselves.
James was about to carefully place another card on top of their enormous house of cards when they heard someone hurry down the stairs. As they realized the sound was coming from the girls dormitory, Mary appeared. She was wearing little more than a tiny purple nightgown and a pair of slippers, but she did not seem to care. She walked straight over to the table, her long brown hair bouncing off her shoulders with every determined step.
A stunned Sirius dropped a card. It fell straight on top of their house of cards, causing it to explode with a loud bang. James - who was sitting nearby and getting the full blast of the explosion - cursed and chucked one of the smoking cards at Sirius's head, but he didn't notice because he was still gazing at his girlfriend. Neither did Mary, but she was not focusing on Sirius. Instead, she glared at Remus. "No more," she told him angrily.
Remus raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Eh Mary, what…"
"Listen Remus. I tried, I really did, but I cannot take anymore. It's like being in the middle of a bloody cross-examination upstairs! I'm telling you now: it's not going to last another day for Brice to figure things out. So if I were you, Moony, I'd tell her as soon as possible."
"Tell me what?"
A voice had come from behind. Brice was standing at the bottom of the stairs, with Lily close behind. Remus literally froze at the sight of them and in the tense silence that followed their unexpected appearance, not a single sound but the crackling wood in the fireplace could be heard.
It was Brice who decided the uncomfortable silence in the end. "Remus?" she asked while quietly walking towards him.
When he did not respond but continued to stare at the floor instead with an anxious expression on his troubled face, she repeated more urgently: "Tell me what, Remus?"
~*~ End of Chapter ~*~