Hi everybody. This is my new story. The others ones are still in work and I wrote this in the meantime, especially while I was stuck at the hospital after the surgery to be able to breathe better. I am really glad I went that way.

Now the standard disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, JKR does, and I just get to play in the world she created.

The story is already fully written and will have a chapter posted each weekend. Happy reading.

Acknowledging Mistakes

Sirius Black looked at the things he had done during the past two years at Hogwarts. Many might wonder why he, the normally carefree Gryffindor boy, would do so. Most thought him incapable of being serious, even always making a pun of the word with his first name. But he was actually horrified with how he had behaved. He had wanted nothing more than distancing himself from the behaviour that his parents showed. The arrogant 'purebloods are the cream of the crop' stupidity that his family believed in. He didn't consider muggles and muggleborns worthless. He actually found them interesting.

To not appear as if he had a stick up his butt, he had taken to playing pranks, causing chaos and spreading fun. At least that should have been what happened. People laughing at his pranks and enjoying them. Now, he found out that they weren't all that much fun. He had coincidentally come across a crying girl, who had been the target of the latest prank that Peter had thought up and which they had all set up. The prank had dropped glue-like jelly onto a group of girls that had scorned their pranks as immature and rude. They had agreed to retaliate, but Sirius had never wanted to become what he now realised he was. A bully. As bad as his parents.

While he might not share their opinions, he shared their arrogance of thinking himself smarter and better than others. He shared their casualness in hurting others. And that realisation made him feel sick inside. He hated how his parents behaved. He didn't want to drop to their level. He needed to change things and quickly. He decided to have an honest look back, make a list of their pranks and try to see how bad they had really been from an objective point of view, not a view of a hothead when he was currently angry at somebody and decided that any kind of prank was justified to avenge the perceived slight.

He skipped History of Magic, no great loss with the boring ghost teaching it, and sat in one of the unused classrooms to write down everything he could remember. After the double period ending, he felt even worse than before. How could he have done all of that? He was as bad as his cousin Bellatrix, who couldn't care less who she hurt. While her victims felt physical pain when she was done with them, his victims were in emotional pain. And he realised that he had to stop it immediately. This path was the wrong one. And he had to convince his friends to stop as well. They would get in big trouble if they continued. He saw a spiral that had constantly become worse. Their first pranks had really been harmless, things like colour changing charms on the robes of the Slytherin Quidditch team, which made the robes circle all kinds of colours for two hours. Then it stopped. And it was a practice session, so no real harm done. A good and harmless laugh. But magical moths in their lockers that left their robes in tatters wasn't fun, it was bullying. Well, even if the others didn't want to stop, he would refuse to go for hurtful pranks, no matter the target. Even Snape with all his spitting vitriol and making verbal snipes at them, especially James, didn't deserve being bullied all the time. Mostly just because he refused to give up his friendship with Lily Evans.

Sirius had distanced himself a little from his friends. They hadn't really seen his concerns as that bad and thought he was blowing things up over nothing but a bit of harmless fun. He had decided that for now he would concentrate on his studies and Quidditch. He was a beater on the Gryffindor team after all, which was a great way to vent some pent up anger. Excess energy could also be worked out if he spent hours training his body. A beater need a lot of upper body strength; thus he could easily explain his change in habits. Many Quidditch players did that when they joined a house team, simply to not lose the coveted spot against a rival. He had also found that Ancient Runes was a subject he really liked and that there were countless great opportunities of things he could do with the knowledge about them. Warding, Enchanting, Curse Breaking, all highly respected professions that required large amounts of knowledge about the symbol language.

And all areas that the Blacks so far hadn't really gone into, meaning it wouldn't lead to him being automatically compared with his less than pleasant relatives all the time. Another project he was still working on was becoming an animagus. It had been James' idea, after puzzling out what Remus' constant disappearing acts and symptoms meant, simply to not leave him alone during the nights of the full moon. And mastering the animagus transformation was considered proof of a mastery in the subject. And masters of any kind were highly respected. That was something he wanted for himself. True respect for his accomplishments.

Sirius didn't know that his change in behaviour had attracted the attention of another person, one that had watched him for a while now and was pleasantly surprised in how he was not behaving anymore. She had been really annoyed at how he and his friends behaved all the time and to see him now, being more serious about his studies and not participating in the cruellest of so-called pranks, was certainly intriguing. She decided to investigate a bit more. And she had the perfect topic to start an innocent conversation.

"Is this seat taken, Black?" She asked politely.

Sirius looked up and found a pretty blond girl looking at him, pointing at the empty seat at the table he had chosen to work on in the library. He knew her, she was in his year in Ravenclaw and shared his Ancient Runes and Charms classes with him. But she had never spoken more than a brief greeting before.

"Sure, feel free to sit there, Princeton," Sirius nodded.

"Thank you," Primrose Princeton replied and took the seat.

"Any specific reason you chose my table? I mean, there are a lot of other ones available," Sirius asked.

"I wanted to talk about the assignment in Ancient Runes that we have been given for the next month and I noticed in class that you had an easy time in the subject. Therefore, I decided that speaking to you about it would be beneficial," Primrose explained.

"Ah, I understand. What can I help you with?" Sirius asked.

"You see, I understand how most runes interact with each other if you use just one alphabet, but Professor Digens wants us to write the essay about the dangers of interactions of different alphabets," She explained.

"True, it is a little complicated," Sirius acknowledged and then started explaining the topic, as much as he had got from his studies, the ones ahead of the material covered in class.

He also found out that Primrose was a nice conversation partner, who didn't seem to mind that he liked pranks, as long as they could actually be called pranks. To his great astonishment she started discussing different pranks with him and he had a lot of fun talking about the ways to incorporate runic arrays into his pranks, next to using them in defence against dark spells. While charms were useful, runes could hold out longer and didn't need active thought to do their job.

Before Sirius knew it, it was close to curfew. He really hadn't noticed how the time flew until Madam Pince told them that the library was closing for the day.

"Wow, we really need to do this again," Sirius commented while they walked towards the main staircase, "I had a lot of fun with you."

"I certainly enjoyed it as well. How about we meet once a week to study for Runes and, if you'd like to, some other subjects? And when we're done, we could work on side projects. I would love to have some innocent fun with my dorm mates. They only have studying and attracting a good match on their minds," Primrose suggested.

"Yeah, I can understand how that can be annoying. I have training on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays in the evenings right now, next to during the day on Saturday. We could use Wednesdays, as Mondays are when we have Astronomy," Sirius suggested.

"I'd like that, Black," Primrose agreed.

"Sirius," Sirius asked.

"Okay, but call me Rose please, Primrose sounds so stiff," She said.

"Gladly, Rose," Sirius agreed and the two had to separate when the way to their respective common rooms was in opposite directions.

Many who had known Sirius Black for years were terribly confused. The brash and arrogant boy was changing visibly. He wasn't part of the crueller pranks against other students, when he played a prank, it was actually a funny one, which left the victims laughing after a while, as the most he did to them was embarrassing them a little, but not so much that they felt humiliated in front of others. And he was a good sport for retaliation. He rose in popularity among the students in his year and the teachers held him in higher regard than before. His grades, which had already been high before, shot up all over the range of his subjects again, which was very strange, as his group of normal friends didn't show the same.

Things became a little clearer when, for the Hogsmeade weekend in February, Sirius was seen going with Primrose Princeton. The two seemed to be close and even Sirius' friends accepted that he was pursuing a pretty girl and left them to their own devices over that. Not without a lot of good-natured ribbing of course. But others saw that Primrose was a very good influence on Sirius. She tamed his extreme habits and directed them into more acceptable paths without trying to change his overall personality. And it was clear to everybody with eyes that Sirius Black was falling hard for the pretty Ravenclaw witch.

They could be seen laughing about outrageous decorations for Valentine's Day, comparing different books on Ancient Runes at the bookshop, buying way too many sweets at Honeydukes, with Sirius paying for the majority of them, eating lunch at the Three Broomsticks and generally having a really good time. James decided that he needed to start betting pools on his best friend's love life and many others were soon drawn in, making bets when the two would share their first kiss and so on.

Time skip 5th year

Sirius groaned under the high workload that had been heaped onto the fifth years, as their OWLs would be taken at the end of the year. The teachers were honestly convinced that they had to cram every single bit of knowledge about magic into their heads before the important exams were taken. He didn't mind learning all the stuff, he liked learning new spells and potions, but he didn't like the homework going along with it. And on top of that he also had a lot to do. He had been, to his extreme surprise, named prefect for Gryffindor after all.

He had been sure that, if Professor McGonagall would choose one of the boys in his year for a prefect, it would be Remus. He was after all less active in pranking people than he still was. But when he had asked, he had been told that while he could cause enough chaos to drown Hogwarts, should it be materialised in form of water, he was also the one that looked out for the younger students and ready to help them out. And the chaos he caused was the kind that you could only shake your head about exasperatedly. But it was never malicious and actually in good fun, which his group of friends still had trouble understanding from time to time.

Sirius was happy with his life at Hogwarts. He had a wonderful girlfriend in Rose, his grades were at the top of their year and his parents had ceased to send him howlers all the time for being a huge disappointment. After all, while he still didn't behave like they wanted and expected from him, he at least proved the 'superiority of the Black blood', which was seen as mitigating circumstances. His mother still tried to pressure him into following the family creed, but he flat out refused. And, thanks to his studies, much to her annoyance, he could defend himself against her, even when she used the darker spells in her arsenal. His father was more interested in the possible alliance with House Princeton, should the relationship between Sirius and Rose hold.

And Sirius wanted that it held. He had realised not so long ago that he had fallen in love with Rose. It had been a huge surprise when he noticed how deep his feelings for her had become. Orion Black had taken to wait and see concerning his oldest son. As he couldn't force Sirius to do what he wanted, he would try to work around his stubbornness. At least that was how Sirius saw his father's behaviour. One problem was the war that was raging outside of Hogwarts. People were killed or vanished without a trace and it was clearly the work of Voldemort and his Death Eaters. To his everlasting shame, he had to say that a good number of his relatives were part of his ranks.

Bellatrix for sure and probably Narcissa as well. His parents supported the agenda financially and other parts of the Blacks also did. He really hated that. How could anybody support a murderer? It was so wrong.

He shoved the thoughts about his family aside. There was no sense in darkening his mood over their actions. He could only do his thing and see to it that he was different to them. When he looked up from his finally finished Potions essay, he saw that James seemed as exhausted by the workload as he was.

"Why the hell do they have to give us this many essays?" James complained, his head lying on his open book and he had a look of suffering on his face.

"True, they could keep it to spell practice and short questions to be answered for homework," Remus agreed, "Much more efficient in my opinion."

"How the hell do you manage it, Padfoot? You also have prefect duties and Quidditch to deal with on top of everything," Peter asked while massaging his aching hand, which had got cramps over the writing load they had.

"Extreme time management, Wormtail," Sirius replied, "But believe me, it's not easy. I agree with Moony on the topic of what kind of homework would make things more efficient."

They had all decided upon nicknames among their group once they had managed to find their animagus forms. Peter was a rat, James a stag and Sirius a large, black dog. Prongs for the antlers, Wormtail for the naked tail, Padfoot for the large pads on his feet and Moony for the night when they would stay together in their alternate forms. The first one to get the transformation had been James, who simply had a knack for Transfiguration. Sirius hadn't been far behind though and he had the easiest time changing back and forth between his human and animal forms. Peter had needed the longest and lots of help from the other two, but now they were all animagi.

"When do you have your next patrol?" Remus asked.

"At ten. Thankfully, I managed to make a deal with Hobbing to give me the same shift as Rose's. It's much more fun to patrol together with her. Nothing against Evans," he knew that any word against her would enrage James, "But she is too much of a rule stickler at times."

He ignored any kind of protest against Lily Evans' faults and simply sat back, wanting to relax a little before continuing with his homework.

Rose and Sirius were on their patrol, which these days could go wrong, if they came across a secret meeting of wannabe Death Eaters. There was a high number of them at Hogwarts, as a lot of darker families told their children that it was a great honour to fight for the pureblood cause.

"Things are getting more heated in Ravenclaw," Rose mentioned.

"Is Selwyn giving you any trouble?" Sirius asked knowingly.

"He tries, but I manage to hold my own against him. And he's not as forceful as his younger brother in Slytherin is. But he has got it into his head that, as a pureblood that supports You-Know-Who's goals, he has a right to any witch he wants, and sadly that target currently is me," Rose sighed, "I told Professor Flitwick, but he can only do so much until Selwyn actually does something against the rules, as Professor Dumbledore, for all his words and stance against the Death Eaters, doesn't really punish those breaking the rules properly and doesn't act when there are just threats underway."

Sirius put his arm around her shoulder and she leaned into him.

"Don't worry. While I may be the less loved son, I'm still the second in line to inherit the Black title. And grandfather won't disinherit me, as long as I don't openly flaunt that I disagree with my family's opinions. As long as I toe the line, I will keep my position. My father also likes that I'm dating you, therefore he doesn't pressure me too much. I guess he has resigned to me at best being neutral to their ideals," Sirius pointed out, "And Selwyn would have to be an idiot to openly go against me."

"Hopefully you are right, Siri," Rose commented, "So far he has just tried convincing me that I would do better with him as my boyfriend. As if I would date such a brutal wizard. He has no tact and thinks that a witch is meant to follow his every whim."

"I hope you did prank him thoroughly for that opinion. He's really the lowest kind of trash thinking that," Sirius asked.

"Of course I did, but he is stubborn," Rose replied, "Are you going to stay over the Christmas break?"

"Yes. I can argue that I want to concentrate on my studies, as it's my OWL year. It will spare me going to the boring balls that my family drags me to," Sirius nodded, looking pleased at dodging that for this one year.

"I convinced my parents to let me stay as well. They want me to do the best I can in the OWLs. They were quite disappointed with my brother's NEWT results last year," Rose told him.

"Then we can certainly find a lot of time to spend together," Sirius said happily.

"I was thinking the same," Rose nodded and moved to kiss Sirius, which he happily returned.

Sirius sat opposite his grandfather, his OWL results being in the old man's hands right now. Sirius was very proud of his exams. He had got nine O's and one E in his ten OWL subjects. The one E was in History of Magic, which he didn't like very much, as Binns was so boring. Still, an E in the subject was better than most students did. He had even beaten out Lily Evans for the top spot.

"Well, Sirius, you have certainly done well in your education. I'm proud of you," Arcturus Black stated, looking at his oldest grandson with distinct pride.

"Congratulations on doing so well, Sirius," His grandmother Melania added as well, smiling at him, "You certainly proved the superiority of the Blacks. If only your cousins would do so as well. If I think of Narcissa's NEWT results, well, thankfully she already planned on concentrating on her duties to her husband in society. She would have had trouble getting a high position anywhere. Really, to fail your NEWT in Charms!"

Sirius bit back a grin. That had been a big disappointment to the Blacks.

"Thank you for the praise, grandfather and grandmother," Sirius replied formally.

He knew how to play the game.

"Well, I also wanted to discuss something with you, Sirius. As you are now sixteen years old and have passed your OWLs, it is time for you to start working for the family more," Arcturus mentioned.

"I will do so within certain limits, grandfather," Sirius replied cautiously, "I won't do anything that could be considered breaking the law for example."

"What your grandfather is hinting at is that we would like to see that you start looking for a suitable bride. As you know, it is important to keep strong connections that benefit the family," Melania explained.

Mentally Sirius sighed in relief. This was something he had been prepared for. It was after all still common in the noble wizarding houses. And he had talked about it with his girlfriend and she was fully in favour of accepting a contract between the two of them.

"I wouldn't be opposed if you started negotiations with the Princeton family for Primrose. I have been dating her for two years now and I want to stay with her," Sirius replied, not showing any outward signs of uncertainty or surprise, making sure his grandparents knew that he had already expected this topic coming up some time in the near future. Foresight by calculations was seen positively by the Blacks after all.

"The Princetons? Well, they are a respected pureblood family, even if they lean more towards the grey area instead of the dark faction that the Blacks belong to. A good choice, Sirius. I am somewhat surprised. I actually thought you would give us more trouble," Arcturus commented.

"I would, if I didn't love Primrose already," Sirius admitted, "But we have talked about this a few times over the last year at Hogwarts, as she is in the same position as I am and a betrothal contract would solve a number of problems for us. As long as it is with a girl I love, and the contract doesn't entail heinous clauses, like the possibility of forcing one of the spouses under total control of the other, I don't mind being placed into a contract."

Melania and Arcturus nodded at that. They knew too well that their grandson didn't agree with the ways the Blacks did many things, but if he was willing to keep up appearances, if they just compromised on some parts, they could live with it. And from the reports that they had from Horace Slughorn at Hogwarts, Sirius and his girlfriend belonged to his Slug Club after all, Sirius leaned more towards the neutral faction. He wasn't a naïve light supporter, like his best friends, who believed Dumbledore too easily, but he also despised the ones supporting the Dark Lord. Well, as long as Sirius played along, they could at least prevent him shaming the family. He did present a proper image after all, even if he was in the totally wrong house.

Over the next three weeks Sirius was kept informed about the progress of the negotiations between the heads of the houses of Princeton and Black. Rose also wrote to him about the Selwyns trying to force her parents to sign a contract for her and Valerian Selwyn, the same boy that had tried to make her his girlfriend during the past year. Her parents were honestly relieved to have a better option in the Black heir, as not even the Selwyns would be able to give them grief over choosing Sirius Black over Valerian Selwyn. The Blacks were simply higher in the pecking order and Sirius had proven himself as much more powerful than nearly all his classmates and those in higher years put together. He was the best match they could find among wizards their daughter's age.

Which was actually proven by the number of inquiries into possible marriage contracts by other families that had daughters his age. Alone the week after the OWL results were known, there had been fifteen offers for Sirius. His mother Walburga had wanted to accept the offers of one of the darker oriented houses, but Orion and Arcturus knew too well that if they did that, Sirius would stop playing along and give them real trouble. Trouble they didn't need after what had happened with Andromeda. After all, how would it look for the Blacks to have the most promising member of the younger generation run away, because they pushed him too far, when he offered an acceptable middle road?

As it was common with contract negotiations, Sirius and Rose didn't get to meet on their own before the contract was finalised. The general agreement was given quickly, but the details needed a bit of time to be worked out. It was actually a short time for a contract to be negotiated, but the agreement of both concerned parties made it go much faster. Sirius got to see his girlfriend again, after missing her like crazy for those weeks, when it was time to sign the contract. It was done at Black Manor, with his grandfather and father looking at him satisfied when he put his signature under the contract, next to the one Rose had given before.

Once the contract had flashed to signal that it was now binding, he couldn't hold back anymore, he pulled Rose into his arms and kissed her happily, wanting to make up for lost time. He didn't see the smirks on the faces of the adults. They were content that something that was beneficial for their political goals actually made the teenagers happy.

"You are what?" James exclaimed shocked.

"Betrothed, Prongs," Sirius answered amused.

"Why would you agree to that?" James asked aghast, sitting on his bed in his room at his parents' house.

Sirius had come over to share the news with his best friend. While he didn't like some of the harsher pranks of the Marauders, he still liked hanging out with the guys and after a while, after seeing that Sirius was more popular than the other three boys of the group in Gryffindor, they had started to tone down their pranks and their image had improved. Even if James didn't let off Severus Snape. Sirius knew that something had happened at the end of last year, but James had been strangely silent about the incident. Sirius hadn't been there, as he had a private celebration with Rose after the DADA OWL was done. They had taken a walk around the lake and had only come back to hear from others that James and Snape had got into a fight, Lily had tried to break it up, but had been insulted by Snape, which made her drop him as a friend. But details were actually hard to come by. Peter and Remus were also keeping their silence over the incident.

"Because I love Rose. We had talked about the possibility of solving her problems with Selwyn by me asking my family to negotiate for a contract with her. We were sure that we wanted to stay together. And I'm really happy. You know how my parents think, Prongs. This way I could at least prevent that they chose a bride for me from one of the dark houses. A girl that thought like my crazy cousins," Sirius shuddered at the thought.

"I guess that's true, but a contract is barbaric!" James declared.

"As long as it is with the girl I love I couldn't care less. You know how the world works. There is enough trouble with Voldemort being on the warpath against everybody he doesn't like. Pureblood customs offer you a measure of protection. And while I don't fear standing up for what I believe in, I know how to choose my battles. Remember, I was raised to one day become the head of the Blacks, after my father dies. I know the politicking that is going on behind the scenes. And my family is more insistent on holding onto outdated traditions than most. I knew that I would have to confront the reality of marriage contracts after I passed my OWLs.

"I didn't openly confront my family if it wasn't worth it, simply to prevent that they messed up the rest of my life. Coincidentally Rose falls into the pool of witches that they approve of, as they are purebloods from good families. Even if her family is neutral, not dark. They knew that I wasn't like them for years, but as long as I keep up appearances, while I'm biding my time to be able to actually do something, they won't screw me over. Hence why I directly offered my grandfather that I was willing to accept a marriage contract for me, as long as it was Rose they made the second party. And the contract is very lenient. Not at all what they tried to pressure Andromeda into, which made her flee and elope with Theodore Tonks," Sirius explained.

That scandal was still very prominent in the minds of his family, probably why they had caved in quicker than they would normally have done anyway. He, as heir to the family, could have given them much more embarrassing press than Andromeda already caused.

"I'm just glad that my family doesn't hold to the pureblood customs that strictly. Mum and Dad just want me to find a nice girl that I can love, no matter which blood status she has. Which means, once I finally convince Lily that I'm the one for her, I can marry her," James exclaimed happily.

"I wish you luck with that. You have a steep road ahead of you with that one," Sirius commented.

"My love for her will persevere in the end," James declared.

Sirius just shook his head. He didn't think that James had actually experienced love for a girl yet. Sure, he had a crush a mile wide for Lily Evans, but in his eyes it was just obsession and infatuation. Until you really got to know a girl, you couldn't truly say you loved her. And James hadn't really taken the time to learn more about Lily as a person. And Lily wouldn't give him a chance to do just that until he changed his ways. Perhaps he had a better chance, now that she had broken her friendship with Snape.

While Sirius didn't like Snape, he had stopped hexing him whenever the chance arose after his revelation. He simply ignored him in class or if they met in the corridors. He didn't have anything against him personally, just against the company he kept. Many of them were what he knew would turn into Death Eaters at the slightest chance. And those he truly despised for what they did. Being cunning and ambitious he could live with. But murdering and torturing people was totally out of line and couldn't be justified by any argument of pureblood supremacy.

Rose and Sirius' betrothal was officially announced in the Daily Prophet a week after the contract was signed. They got a congratulation letter from the Minister, as both families were political power horses, and besides that nothing much changed for them. Rose had to go through a talk with her mother about the duties of a wife, Sirius was taught more about caring for a family by his grandfather, as Orion knew too well that his son didn't really respect him enough to listen to his advice, he had burned that bridge years ago, and both appeared as an official couple at the ministry's summer ball. They were also informed about rituals that were performed when the marriage was officially sealed and how much additional power a couple won if they consummated their marriage on their wedding day while still both being pure.

There were good reasons why, even if there were a lot of broom cupboards that students frequently used for making out sessions out of sight, no student had ever become pregnant at the school in all of its history. There were wards that prevented that the students could have sex with each other. A very necessary precaution when you dealt with hormonal teenagers. The old families had insisted that those wards were established before they sent their children to be educated at Hogwarts. They didn't want them weakened before they could get that valued boost. There were good reasons why most wizards and witches married young, shortly out of school. They felt the desire to finally have sex strongly and the marriage ritual also eased the way into accepting their new spouse, which was why marriage contracts were still used.

The two could meet again without supervision in their free time as well, which they used to explore magical and muggle places. They never told their families about the muggle places, just the magical ones, like a tour to Stonehenge or the magical collection of the Tower of London. But they also went to muggle theatres to see movies, which was great, as they enjoyed cuddling up in the dark rooms and sharing popcorn and other sweets or visited muggle museums. They even went to a muggle club one evening for dancing, after having put on accessories that Sirius had placed a runic confundus charm onto. Rose had a bracelet with blue and white pearls that had the runes and Sirius wore a necklace with an onyx pendent in form of a dragon. It made the muggles think that they were already eighteen and allowed to enter the club.

They had a lot of fun and were looking forward to the day when they would marry. For both of them their contract was a good thing. No matter that they were sure that others would give them grief over it.

That's it for this week, the next chapter will be posted next week. Until then.