Assignment 8 - Notable Witches and Wizards - Write about an event with unexpected outcome

Auction: Character - Sirius Black

Couple Appreciation - Cinderella

Film Festival - 42 - Someone from an abusive home/someone neglected or ignored.

TV Addicts - 13 Reasons Why - (dialogue) "Things get better, or worse, depending on your point of view.", (Word) disturbed. (Word) Confession

Gobstones - Green - Secrecy, Accuracy: (object) clock, Power: Lucius Malfoy, Technique: (object) wine bottle

Writing Club - Word: Oblivious

Disney Challenge - Quote "Any day spent with you is my favourite day. So today is my new favourite day."

Amber Attic - 8. I know you think this world is too dark to even dream in colour, but I've seen flowers bloom at midnight.

Showtime - Word set: Lost, paranoia, three, mother

Days of the month - Write about a wish coming true

Count Your Buttons - True Colours - Phil Collins

Lyric Alley - 11. But you disappear

Ami's AA - 20. Word: invitation

Making an Easter Basket - Plot point - getting hurt (physically or emotionally)

Guess the Name - Fairy Godmother


Flames of Freedom

OmegaVerse

Cinderella AU


Sirius hoisted the heavy basket higher on his arm and reached up with his free hand to push his dark hair out of his face. He tried to remember what else needed to be purchased - if he forgot something again… well, he didn't want to even consider his mother's reaction. He could still vividly remember the punishment from the last time.

His hair felt horrible under his hands. Years before, Sirius would take care and pride in his appearance. He would have daily baths (which he still attempted to do) and look every-bit the high-class nobleman—or nobleboy— he had once been… but that had been before his father had passed away. Before he had found out that he was arranged to be married off to a much older man upon his eighteenth birthday and taken steps to prevent that.

After his mother believed that Sirius had turned null—where someone lost their scent— Sirius had been moved out of the house and into the unused servants quarters and had been treated like he didn't belong in his own home - the home that he had more right to than Mother and his younger brother, as he was the heir.

Though Sirius knew he had brought it on himself - the plants that grew a mile away dulled his senses. They took away his scent and stopped his heats. He preferred to become a servant in his own home than be sold off to an older, cruel Alpha so his mother could have some sort of title.

At least he'd be able to choose for himself who he can love - once he was out of his mother's hold that was, because right now he had to do so much work that he barely had a moment to himself to meet someone. Plus… he'd have to come off the Canis Bindweed and allow others to be able to scent him again. He couldn't do that around his mother because she'd punish him. She would find the worst Alpha in the world to have him become the mate of.

Satisfied that he had managed to get everything, Sirius headed home again, not looking forward to the house-work that he would have to deal with upon his return, or worse, the tending of the stables.

As he walked, he let out a groan. He had forgotten about the stables when he had left that morning. There were supposed to be three new horses delivered and he was sure his mother expected him to be there to tend to them - one thing Sirius knew nothing about and that was horses. In fact, they terrified him.

He sped up, determined to get back to the house quickly in case she lost her temper. There was only one thing worse than his mother when she was angry - and that was his mother when she was beyond angry to the point where he had been left bleeding and in despair, having to bandage himself and pretend that this wasn't his life.

The house came into sight and Sirius moved as fast as he could, the stones on the path digging into his feet through thin, worn shoes. Sirius paid no mind to them - he was used to it, and he rushed around the back of the house and to the kitchen door, letting himself in.

The basket was quickly unpacked and Sirius headed towards the stable, his eyes searching around for his mother, hoping she wasn't there.

"There you are," a shrill voice snapped as Sirius entered the stable, and Sirius quickly recoiled. His eyes searched around, falling on some horses first, before moving to his mother and brother who were talking to a man who had to be around Sirius' age.

For a moment, their eyes met and Sirius took a deep breath, before recalling the medicines that he was forced to take, hiding his scent and dampening down his sense of smell. He moved forward, stopping a short distance from his mother.

"Mother," he murmured softly.

Walburga turned to look at him, her eyes moving over the old clothes he had been given to wear, and her lip curled. Sirius' gaze moved away quickly, and he noticed a second man murmuring to the horses.

"Sirius, you will show our new horse-handler to the servants quarters and get him set up," Walburga said. "Mr. Potter, I'm pleased with the horses you've provided and want to thank you for finding someone who can look after our new investment. Sirius is useless when it comes to animals and I wouldn't trust him to look after them."

"You're welcome." The man by the horses turned around, his eyes finding Sirius. He immediately frowned slightly, his eyes darting between Sirius and Regulus for a moment, before he decided to say nothing. "Remus is a family friend and it was a hard decision to give up the horses because it meant that Remus would be leaving with them... " He turned to the other man and Sirius' gaze followed. "You're welcome at the Manor anytime. You're family."

Remus smiled and Sirius couldn't look away. It was a beautiful sight and he found himself slightly lost. He could tell straight off that the man wasn't an Omega, but due to his dulled senses, he wasn't able to tell anything more about him. For a moment, he regretted the leaves that he often put in his tea, hiding his Omega status. Because for the first time, he felt the desire to get the man's scent.

"You'll be showing my… son how to clean out the stalls," Walburga began. "And basic upkeep of my horses, though I don't believe him capable of handing them himself."

Sirius clenched his teeth and bit back the words that were threatening to escape. He chose this, he reminded himself. He just had to do this until he found a way to be free. His hands curled up into a ball and he risked a glance at the two men.

Their eyes were on him and he could tell that they were both searching for a scent. His gaze lowered again, knowing there wasn't anything to find and therefore the handsome one with the strange, beautiful amber eyes would write him off just as quickly. He looked away again.

"Well, I'll leave you to it," the bespeckled man said. "Remus, remember - anytime. Mother won't be pleased if you don't visit soon."

Remus nodded his head. "Of course. Goodbye, James."

James bid farewell to the Blacks before heading out, leaving the rest of them standing around.

"You're able to get to work without further instruction, I presume. Sirius will do the tour and show you where you'll sleep." She turned and walked away, and Regulus turned to Sirius.

"Regulus, come and walk with me."

Regulus shot his brother an apologetic look which Sirius ignored and followed out of the barn, leaving Sirius and Remus alone.

"Alpha or Beta?" Sirius asked. "Not that it matters… I just…"

He watched Remus try and scent again, frowning slightly as it failed. "Alpha," he replied. "You?"

"Omega," Sirius muttered. "Come, you'll have to stay in the other set of servants quarters. Let me show you the way." He turned to the doors and Remus followed and they continued in silence. Sirius racked his brain for something to say, but nothing came to mind except how he looked a mess when a handsome Alpha was there. He reached the servants building that was located near the barn. "It's just me in here now," he said, pushing the door open and holding it, allowing Remus to walk through. "The door on the left is Alpha quarters. It'll be just you in there. I've got the right-hand door. The rooms are specially lined for… I mean, I don't have them, but…"

"Why are you a servant?" Remus asked, ignoring the babbling. "That's your mother, right?"

Sirius nodded. "Can you scent me?" When Remus shook his head, Sirius shrugged slightly. "Well, in mother's eyes, I'm faulty. I can't be married off - I can't get her a fancy title. I'm a waste of space really. So instead of trying to find someone for me, I'm just going to live a life of servitude."

Remus' arms crossed. "But… she's your mother."

"Yes."

"I feel like you're missing what I'm saying," Remus said. "Your mother is supposed to love you unconditionally. So what if you're... "

"Null?"

"If that's the word you like to use," Remus murmured. "Your mother is the one who gave you life. She's supposed to be the one person to be there for you no matter what. It's concerning that it's not the case."

"Not all mothers are like yours," Sirius said with a slight smile. "Mine detests me. But there's a benefit of having no scent."

"Is there?" Remus asked curiously.

"No arranged marriages," Sirius replied, with a happy smile. "No marrying Lord Greyback as my parents had always intended. I may be a servant here, but one day I won't be. One day I'll fall in love and run away with someone. One day I'll be free from Mother."

"I hope that day doesn't take too long," Remus offered with a smile. "And I don't think scent matters that much. I mean… someone could smell intoxicating but just be toxic. An alluring scent doesn't mean that someone is a good person. It's what's inside that matters. You have the benefit of knowing that when someone likes you, scent didn't impact that or make that choice for them."

"It'll be nice to meet someone who doesn't care about scents and is willing to get to know me," Sirius murmured. "Put your bag in and I'll show you around more before I get to my duties."

Remus pushed the door open, doing what he was told before exiting the small room. "Is there much more to see?"

"Just the bathroom and the kitchen," Sirius insisted. "There's a bedroom that I've turned into a sort of sitting room. I took the old sofa when mother asked me to get rid of it, and am using old furniture but…" he shrugged slightly.

"That sounds like a much better idea than to sit in each other's bedrooms when we want to chat," Remus pointed out. "It'll be nice, having a sitting area just the two of us. At the Potters', I'd sit with the family and they treated me as such, but I knew from the moment I arrived that I wouldn't get the same treatment here. I'm glad you're down here too. It'll be nice to have company."

"It really will!" Sirius beamed at him and Remus smiled widely back.

...oOo...

Sirius stared at the large horse in despair. "I've changed my mind," he said.

"No," Remus replied with a chuckle. "That's not fair. You said you'd at least try. I can lead Snuffles around myself so you just sit on him and enjoy the ride."

"Alone?" Sirius looked at the horse again. "You think I can get on that horse alone?"

Remus glanced at the stallion. "Yes."

"But… but isn't that the one that doesn't like Mother?" Sirius continued warily.

Remus sniggered. "He's clearly got good taste. Sirius, I wouldn't put you in danger, you know that, right? I mean… it's been three weeks and I hope I've gained even a little trust."

"You have…" Sirius replied slowly.

Remus nodded slightly. "I'm glad, but perhaps this isn't fair. Maybe we need to approach this at a slower rate. Maybe you could spend time with Snuffles. Feed him some sugar cubes, brush him. Get to know that he's safe. Then when you're comfortable, I'll bring you out on him."

Sirius stared at the horse, worried that he had let Remus down. It had been three weeks and he had been jealous of the riding lessons that Regulus was having. Regulus had quickly adopted a light brown thoroughbred horse by the name of Thunder which had taken to him quickly and out of the remaining two, Snuffles and Luna remained.

"What about Luna? She seems more… placid?"

"Placid?" Remus glanced towards the next stall. "Sirius, I think this is the horse for you," he admitted softly. "I just get the impression that he's garnered an interest in you. If you feel more secure on Luna… we can do your lesson on Luna, but you need to decide quickly. Your mother said she'd be returning in a couple of hours and the longer we discuss this, the less time we have to ride. We can do something else if you don't—"

"Ride with me?" Sirius murmured softly. "I mean… I could do it alone, but maybe… maybe it'll be easier if I'm not—not alone that is."

"Okay, let me just saddle up Luna for myself and—"

"No. I mean ride Snuffles with me. He can take both of our weight for a short ride, right?"

Remus nodded. "Are you sure?"

"I just need to get used to being on a horse," Sirius replied. "I like Snuffles - he's a beautiful horse. I just need… Mother might come back early."

Remus grinned. "I've thought of that. There's a path that'll runs alongside the road, but we'll be inside of the grounds and gates and hidden from the trees. We can listen out for the carriage, and if we hear it, we'll head back and arrive before she even steps foot out of the carriage."

"I… are you sure?"

Remus nodded. "You'll be safe," he insisted. "I swear."

Sirius nodded. "Okay. You'll have to help me up first though. Do I sit at the front or back?"

Remus considered the question. "In front of me," he said, walking away and searching for some steps. He placed them down next to the horse and offered his hand. Sirius took it, squeezing hard as he started up the steps, before letting go and resting his hands on the horse. "Here goes nothing." He lifted a leg and swung it carefully over Snuffles, settling onto the horse. Remus chuckled at the panicked look on his face before climbing up too, much more easily.

"We'll start off slow," he said. "I'll take the reins. Horses are quite sensitive to commands and if you pull in fear, I can't tell you how Snuffles will react. So we'll start slowly and when you've gotten used to being on a horse, you can try with the reins."

He reached his arms around Sirius' waist to reach the reins and Sirius suddenly realised how close they were. He hadn't ever been this close to an Alpha and his cheeks reddened slightly.

Suddenly Snuffles was moving and Sirius leaned back against Remus, feeling off balance. Remus straightened up on the back of the horse, allowing Sirius support. "Stay like that if it makes you comfortable," he murmured softly, his lips not far from Sirius' ear.

Remus' hands remained on the reigns but Sirius was sure that his arms tightened around him slightly, though he couldn't be sure anymore. It felt nice, leaning against Remus. Arms around him, even if they weren't holding him. He almost forgot his initial fear of getting on a horse.

Remus let out a slight laugh. "You're enjoying this more than you let on, aren't you?" he said. "I love riding. It's like being free - just to run and see where the horse takes you. But for now, we'll start with a slow trot."

"It's… it's not bad."

"We can do this every time your mother goes away. Or even when her and your brother go to bed. Get the horses out for a ride and have a hint of freedom - just for a few hours."

"That sounds nice," Sirius murmured, turning his head to try and get a look at Remus, a smile on his lips. He could just about see Remus' own lips curve up into a smile. "This is quite… it's relaxing, isn't it - getting away from responsibilities and stuff?"

"I love it," Remus said softly, as the horse sped up. "I grew up with horses and I've been riding for years. I find horses beautiful. It's why I chose it as a job."

"And what about your parents?" Sirius asked, his eyes on the grounds, taking everything in.

"They have a little farm," Remus said with a fond smile. "My mum tends her garden and likes to grow medicinal herbs whilst my father tends to the crops and the few animals they have. It's small but so peaceful."

"It sounds nice. Why would you leave that?" Sirius asked.

Remus shrugged slightly. "The Potters gave me a job. I made friends with James and they needed help with their horses one day and they just kept me on. I still helped at home, but horses are my love. It's why I'm here." The horse sped up and Sirius leaned in against Remus even more, nervous now.

"You can tell me to slow down," Remus murmured softly. "I'll do as you ask, whatever you need."

Sirius considered it before shaking his head. "No," he said, very aware of Remus' body against his. "It's fine. Everything is perfect."

"I agree," Remus replied.

...oOo...

"This is a nice blanket," Sirius said, watching Remus throw the blanket out on the ground, spreading it out. "So why are you throwing in down on the grass?"

"I have a surprise," Remus replied, turning away and heading over to the horse, removing the saddlebags and opening them. He pulled out a bottle of wine and some glasses, along with some baked goods that immediately had Sirius' mouth watering. "I hope you like wine. I have water too, if you prefer."

Sirius hesitated for a moment. "Wine," he finally said. "I've never had wine before."

Remus smiled, sitting down and patting the blanket next to him, inviting Sirius to join him. He poured out two glasses, setting them down carefully before tearing open the paper bag full of various small tarts, cakes and mini pies.

"This must have set you back," Sirius said, watching as the goods were carefully placed on platters, and wondering how he hadn't noticed the full saddlebags.

"It's worth it," Remus replied, his cheeks reddening as he focused on the trays. "Help yourself."

Sirius' mouth was almost watering as he reached out for the delicious goods. After a moment, he took a small pie and brought it to his nose, inhaling deeply.

"You… you can smell those?" Remus asked.

Sirius nodded. "Yes, why?"

"Oh. Nothing," Remus said, quickly shaking his head, and turning his attention back to the food.

"No, it's something," Sirius insisted. "Tell me."

Remus hesitated, before his amber eyes came up to meet Sirius'. "When someone is… null," he whispered the last word, clearly concerned about upsetting Sirius by even using it. He trailed off for a moment, ensuring that Sirius wasn't upset, before continuing. "Well… they have no scent but also they lose their sense of smell… entirely."

"Oh." Sirius hadn't known that. "I can't scent people, but my sense of smell isn't entirely gone. Strong smells I can pick up - bread for example. I just can't smell people." He leaned forward. "May I?"

Remus nodded and Sirius pressed his nose into Remus' neck, taking a deep breath. He wished he was able to scent Remus because he was certain that the Alpha's scent would be perfect. But that would mean coming off the leaves he took, which would mean Walburga would marry him off. He would never see Remus again if that happened.

"I can't scent you," he whispered sadly.

Remus reached up, his fingers stroking through Sirius' hair for a moment, before he moved his hand away. Sirius moved back to where he had been sitting, his heart racing at the intimate gesture.

"Don't be sad—scent isn't everything," Remus murmured. "It allows you to fall in love with someone based on who they are, not pick by scent first. There are many more senses than smell. Sight. You might look at someone and struggle to look away. Touch. Taste."

"Taste?"

Remus nodded his head. "The taste of someone's skin, or their lips against yours."

Sirius smiled at how sweet Remus was being, trying to reassure him. "You haven't eaten anything." He reached out for a small cake but Remus shook his head. "The chocolate ones are the best," he replied.

Sirius grabbed a chocolate one and passed it over, his fingers brushing against Remus'. Their eyes met and Sirius couldn't help but smile. "This is perfect," he murmured softly, his skin tingling where Remus' hand had touched his. He wondered if Remus had felt it too, or if Remus was oblivious to what was going through him right now.

"It can always be like this," Remus quickly insisted, before taking a bite of his cake. Sirius reached for a tart and took a bite, enjoying the flavour. He was aware of Remus' eyes on him as he glanced at what he was eating.

When he swallowed, he looked back at his companion. "What do you mean?" he asked.

Remus looked nervous now. "We can do this again - whenever you want. I don't… I don't earn a lot, but whatever you need, I can provide."

"You don't have to worry about me," Sirius insisted, touched by Remus' words. "You have your own life and you don't have to feel responsible for me."

Remus reached out with his free hand, grabbing Sirius' quickly. "No. I don't feel responsible for you because I have to. What I meant to say is that… that I…" he trailed off. "I think I can hear horses."

Sirius jumped up in a panic, afraid and upset at their picnic being disturbed. This was a bad idea - his mother would find out and would punish him. He stood frozen as he watched Remus pour the wine glasses out onto the grass, push a stopper in the top of the wine and put it back into the saddlebag. The cakes were put back into the torn paper bag and Remus twisted the ends, trying to keep it closed before picking up the quilt. Everything was stored away and Remus walked back over.

"We'll get back in time," he assured Sirius. "Let me help you on." He led Snuffles towards an old tree-trunk. "On the tree-trunk and then on the horse," he insisted.

Fear of his mother had Sirius moving quicker than the first time, and it wasn't long before they were back on Snuffles and rushing home.

...oOo...

"We beat them," Remus insisted, helping Sirius off the horse. "We can have the rest of these tonight if you'd like?"

"I would!" Sirius insisted. "I better start on lunch or Mother will be angry. Thank you for a wonderful ride and picnic. I really would like to do it again - spend time with you again."

Remus smiled shyly. "And maybe next time I can tell you… what I wanted to."

Sirius nodded and turned to head back inside, hearing Remus' sigh behind him. He didn't turn around because going back over to Remus would delay him from his duties.

He walked into the kitchen and began making up food, and a few minutes later, his mother walked in. "Is that not ready yet?" she asked, displeased.

Sirius shook his head. "I wasn't sure when you'd be home," he told her. "I was watching out for you whilst doing my other duties. When I saw you approach, I began to cook. I didn't want you to end up with something cold if I started too soon."

Walburga sniffed. "Very well. You'll have it ready quickly!" She walked away and Sirius turned his attention back to fixing up the soup, only stopping when he heard the knock on the door. He headed out of the kitchen and to the front door, quickly opening it.

A man stepped in and Sirius could see the royal uniform. He quickly summoned his mother, and she came to the door.

"My lady," the man said, bowing slightly to her, before opening up a parchment. "I have a royal decree here requesting all Omegas and female betas under the age of twenty-five to attend the ball that is happening tomorrow night."

Walburga glanced at the decree. "My son is an Omega," she said. "He'll be attending of course."

The man nodded. "His name?"

"Regulus."

"And you?" Sirius was startled when the man looked at him. "Are you an Omega?"

Sirius glanced at his mother who gave him a cold look in return.

"Unfortunately this one is null," she said, spitting the last word out as though it sickened her, and Sirius suspected that it did.

The man inspected Sirius for a moment. "He'll of course be required to attend."

"Oh, he's just a servant," Walburga said dismissively, but the man ignored her, heading over to Sirius.

"Tomorrow at the castle at eight. This invitation says 'all Omegas'," he insisted. "Your name?"

"S...Sirius," Sirius replied, his eyes widening. "But…"

"I'll put you both down on the list," the man said. "It's a masquerade ball so you'll be required to wear a mask. Good afternoon to you all." He bowed once more and left, closing the door behind him.

"You will not be going," Walburga hissed from where she had been standing. "You will not embarrass this family any further."

"They'll be expecting him," came a voice from the doorway, where Regulus had been listening. "They'll announce names as people enter, Mother. What if they've written Sirius' name down and he doesn't show?"

Walburga pursed her lips. "I'll consider it. If he finishes his work for the day, he can attend."

Regulus gave his brother a small smile before walking from the room once more and Sirius fled into the kitchen, excited that he would be able to attend the ball.

...oOo...

The next day, it seemed that Sirius had no time to sort out an outfit for the ball. His mother had him doing everything she could think of. He barely had time to eat anything throughout the day, just sneaking a bit of bread when he had the chance.

He had seen Remus in passing and mentioned the ball, but hadn't even been able to stop.

And when his family left that evening, Sirius retreated to the small building close to the stables, hurting that he was missing out.

But as he walked into his room, he saw it. A suit lay on his bed and a gold and red mask was on top of that. Sirius could only stare and wonder what had happened.

Perhaps Regulus had done this? Regulus had looked sorry when they left and had been the one to tell his mother the day before that Sirius should go. It had to have been him - who else could it have been?

Sirius stared at it longingly. He was still so busy, but here was an outfit - and he could take Snuffles from the stables and ride there. After a long moment, he decided he would go. After all, it was a once in a lifetime deal - and if his mother found out… well, he'd accept the punishment. This was worth it.

He quickly went for a wash and began to get ready, taking time to put his hair into a tidy bun, before picking the mask up. He got Snuffles from the stable and climbed on, making his way to the castle.

Remus watched from the shadows as Sirius rode away. He had seen the desire in Sirius' eyes when talking about that ball. And though he knew that there would be men richer and more desirable, Sirius deserved someone who was more than just a stable-boy. This is how Sirius' life was supposed to be and Remus didn't want to stand in the way of that.

He let out a sigh as he considered how the previous day would have gone if Walburga had arrived back twenty minutes later. Remus had been so close to telling Sirius that he was falling in love with him - that he wanted to be with Sirius, to spend their lives together. He wanted to ask Sirius if they could court. Maybe run away together one day, together - perhaps even back to Remus' home with his parents, who would dote on Sirius the way a parent should.

But fate had chosen that moment for Walburga's carriage to return back. Remus hadn't confessed his feelings and now Sirius would fall in love with someone else.

And the beautiful mask had cost a lot of money, but if it led to Sirius' happiness, then it was worth every coin. Remus would use every last penny he had if it meant bringing that beautiful smile to Sirius' lips. He would do anything in his power to achieve that, even if Sirius didn't love him in return.

...oOo...

Snuffles was tied up a short distance from the castle, still within the grounds, in case Sirius had to leave in a hurry. He had forgone the leaves that had removed his scent, because for that single day, he wasn't Sirius Black, servant at the Black Manor - he was someone else. He knew that his scent was returning and smelling others as he walked to the castle made him feel off-kilter.

He reached the doors and made sure his mask was covering his eyes, before stepping through the door that the guards had quickly opened, and there it was. A beautiful large hall, lights hanging everywhere, decorations.

And what felt like a thousand people, if not more.

As he started down the stairs, Sirius spotted the prince already having a dance with a woman in the middle of the floor, their eyes on only each other. Sirius didn't mind - Prince Frank was a good ruler from what he knew and he deserved happiness. He recognised the girl as the one who worked in the general goods store.

He moved around the room, trying not to breathe in deeply as the scents threatened to overwhelm him, but it was of no use. Having spent so long with no scents, as they slowly became stronger as his self-medication, he found himself leaning against the wall, trying to adjust.

"You look lost, little Omega," came a smooth voice. "Would you care for a dance?"

Sirius glanced up, his eyes falling on a man who had chosen a small mask. From what Sirius could see of his face, he was handsome - and he was wearing a crown.

"Yes, my prince," Sirius said, bowing slightly as best he could, though he struggled to remember his manners.

"I'm not your prince, merely a visitor to your kingdom and it seems I arrived on a good evening," the man said, his eyes moving slowly over Sirius in a way Sirius was sure he had never been looked at before. "Prince Lucius from Slytherin. And your name?"

"My understanding is that this is a way to protect identities. I'd like to keep mine a secret for now," Sirius murmured.

The prince shifted closer. "Ah, I like a challenge," he said. "Tell me - an already arranged marriage and you can't be seen here? Or a jealous ex-lover?"

Sirius shrugged slightly. "I have my reasons."

"Perhaps you can tell me during a dance?" The prince offered his hand and Sirius couldn't help but accept, flattered that he had been chosen out of everyone. He put his hand in Lucius' and they headed to the dance-floor. Immediately a hand was gripping his waist tightly, pulling him close. Sirius allowed it, though he wasn't used to the rough handling. But this was the prince and Lucius had chosen him.

"You smell wonderful," Lucius murmured. "Say the word, and I can ensure that whatever arrangement your family have for you comes to an end. No-one will stand in the way of what a prince wants."

Sirius smiled slightly, knowing that the mask covered the frown that was trying to make its way onto his face. He had agreed to a dance and nothing more, but Prince Lucius was already talking like he had some claim over him. Sirius didn't say anything, knowing it wasn't a good idea to insult the prince. He was an Alpha and quite forward, but as a prince he was entitled to be, Sirius decided.

The song ended and Lucius took his hand. "Come, walk with me," he insisted. Sirius took the offered arm, allowing Lucius to lead the way onto the balcony, keeping up with the prince's quick pace.

"I imagine you are quite the beauty," Lucius murmured, turning to Sirius. "I can tell already by what little I see. Remove your mask so I can ensure it."

Sirius hesitated, but Lucius smiled again. "Well, I'll see your face before we are wed," he said, his hand coming up to brush Sirius' face below where the mask ended, his fingers cupping Sirius' chin and tilting it up slightly. "You'll be beautiful at my side, my little Omega."

Sirius looked into the grey eyes of Prince Lucius. He had been excited to come to the ball and flattered that the prince had picked him out of so many guests…

But it felt wrong. He could remember Remus' touch from the day before. The way Remus looked at him which was so different to the way Lucius looked at him. There was something real in Remus' gaze.

"Would you like a drink?" Sirius blurted out. "I'll go and get some."

Lucius smiled. "I'll wait here. Don't be long."

Sirius nodded, walking back inside, knowing that the prince was watching him. He just needed a minute to collect his thoughts because he was so confused. A prince wanted him yet he could only think of Remus, his friend.

He approached a waiter and took two wine-glasses from the tray, bringing one to his lips and turning around, his gaze seeking out Lucius on the balcony. He watched as Lucius argued with another man, the man cowering away slightly, and Sirius realised this wasn't what he wanted.

What he wanted more than anything was to be back at the manor, laying on that quilt with Remus, eating little cakes and for Remus to be holding his hand like the last time. He was wasting time at the ball when he could be alone with Remus. As he stood there with the glasses, he began to imagine what could happen between them when they were truly alone and his face reddened at the idea.

Sirius put the glasses down and turned quickly, rushing towards the doors. They opened as he approached, the guards bowing slightly. Sirius ignored them, his focus on getting the horse and arriving home. Finding Remus.

Perhaps they could pack a bag tonight and run away together? He glanced around, his gaze falling on a clock. He suspected his mother would be home before too long and it was close to midnight already. If he left now, he could have time to pack a bag and run away with Remus on Snuffles before his mother returned.

With a smile on his lips, Sirius fled from the castle, found his horse, and rode into the night.

...oOo...

Sirius rushed back to the manor as quickly as he could. As he rode, he pictured Remus. Telling Remus how he felt, telling Remus that he wasn't null after all. Asking Remus to run away with him and start a life together.

There was no version in his mind where Remus would say no, because of the way Remus looked at him. Sirius had missed it at the time, but as he recalled the picnic, he knew there was something akin to love and caring in Remus' gaze. Remus had touched his face and held his hand. Remus had offered to look after him. Those words were those of a man who was attempting to ask someone to court him.

Remus was the only one who really saw him. He had talked to Remus about the ball, about hoping he could go… and a mask had been provided. Walburga wouldn't have provided that nor would Regulus - he saw that now. Remus had provided for Sirius again, helping him to get the ball like a fairy godmother.

And Sirius was glad. Being at the ball made him realise more than ever that this wasn't the lifestyle he wanted. Maybe if he hadn't become a servant, he would have enjoyed it? Sirius shook his head. Again, there was no scenario where he wouldn't have fallen in love with Remus.

It had been so easy for that to happen, like it was meant to be. Fate. Soulmates even. Sirius knew without a doubt that if he had been rich and was in charge in the manor, he'd still end up in the stables, captivated by the handsome yet shy Alpha who looked after the horses. He would still ask for riding lessons, insisting Remus ride with him.

Sirius turned into the grounds of the manor and headed through the gates. As he approached the doors, he turned off onto the path to the stables, carefully climbing down from Snuffles and leaded him into the barn and putting him in his stall.

He tried to be quick, not wanting to waste another moment, but upon turning, he realised that things hadn't gone according to plan.

"You think I wouldn't recognise you?" Walburga asked, her cold eyes fixed on Sirius. "I knew you instantly. Thankfully the conversation you shared with the other Prince didn't feature your name meaning that once you hand over that mask, Regulus will be able to return and step into your place with Prince Lucius."

Sirius shook his head. "No," he said. "That mask is my bargaining tool, Mother."

"Bargaining?" she laughed and Sirius shivered at the coldness in the tone. "Whatever makes you think that I'll give you anything?"

"I just want to leave. I just want my freedom."

"Freedom?" Walburga spat. "You ungrateful child. I've housed you, fed you, clothed you. Even when you were found to be null. You choose to leave me because you want to live a fairytale life with a stable-boy?"

Sirius gasped. "How did you know?"

"I have my ways," Walburga replied. "I'm not blind nor am I stupid, Sirius. That's not how life works. You have a duty to this family. You may be null, but I'm still stuck with you and therefore you aren't going anywhere."

Sirius stared at his mother. "You can't stop me," he said, narrowing his eyes. "I love Remus and I choose to be with him. I don't want to marry a prince. I'm not staying here to be your servant. Let me leave and you'll never hear from me again. You can go back to pretending you have one son instead of two. It will be as though I don't exist."

Walburga shook her head. "You will give me the mask and let me assure you—you'll never see your stable-boy again."

...oOo...

Sirius pulled hard at the door, hoping it would budge, but it didn't. He cursed the Omega-heat room which had a lock on the other side of the door.

He had been shown the room in his youth and had even cleaned it, but had never sat down in it before as he had never gone through a heat. His mother had clearly chosen that room because it was hard to break out of, but Sirius was determined to get out before it was too late.

He didn't know how long it would take for his mother to find Remus and fire him. Sirius didn't know where Remus was from - his only knowledge of how to find Remus would be to seek out the Potter family and ask them. He'd have to somehow get a horse, travel to the Potter manor and the idea terrified him. That family loved Remus, but they might not love Sirius and might refuse to help him.

And if he was in the kingdom of Slytherin, well, it'd be further to travel.

There was a tap on the other side of the door and Sirius rushed over. "Mother?"

"I've made plans for you," Walburga said. "I've recently heard about tests that will fix your problem. There is a place that will give you medicines that will change your body or push your body to go into heat. They believe these tests will fix your nullity. The doctor is going to be by in an hour, but I must get back to the ball to see to your brother. When you are better, you'll be sent back to me."

"No," Sirius said, banging on the door. He had heard about these places in a hushed whisper around town. The medications made Omegas sick and poorly. Weak even. The heats that followed were agony, burning, blinding pain. The treatments weren't only for null Omegas, they were used to control anyone considered 'ill' by society. Anyone whose minds worked differently who society thought needed help.

Sirius knew in the past that his mother had cared so little, she hadn't even considered sending him to a place like that.

"Don't!" he shouted, banging on the door hard. "Let me out now!"

"When you're fixed, I hear that Lord Greyback is tiring of his Omega and I'm sure he'll happily accept our previous agreement. A Lord is more than you're worthy of, but you do have our blood running through you - even if you are a disgrace."

Sirius banged on the door again, listening to his mother walk down the stairs. He fled to the window to look and it wasn't long before he saw her carriage head away from the manor.

He was locked in until the doctor arrived. He could fight, but he had no doubt the doctor would have people with him to restrain Sirius. There was no way out.

He walked over to the bed and dropped down, trying to think and form a plan. His gaze moved around the room, searching for a weapon.

When the lock clicked back, he jumped up, ready to fight. But when Remus swung the door open, Sirius rushed into his arms.

"I heard her in the stables," Remus said. "I didn't want to fight your mother so I waited until she left again. What you said… did you… the conversation. My name came up." He pulled Sirius from the room, stopping in the hallway briefly.

Sirius smiled softly. "Remus, I left the ball because I realised that I've already fallen in love. That's not the life for me - I should have stayed here so we could have spent the evening together. I love you - you're my future. I came back to ask you if you wanted to run away together?"

Remus nodded. "I want that more than anything," he said. "I've fallen in love with you - from the first moment I laid eyes on you, you had me captivated and every second I've spent with you since then, I've learnt what a wonderful, beautiful, kind man you are. I thought I had lost you when you went to that ball. I knew someone else would see that too. I hadn't expected for you to come back for me. I was about to approach you and ask you why you were back so early, but your mother beat me to it."

"She's called a doctor to take me away and fix my nullity. When they reailse, they'll send me away."

Remus took a deep breath. "Wait, but you have a scent?"

Sirius smiled. "A faint one. Mother couldn't scent me in the stables and I don't think it was strong enough for her to realise just yet."

"There wasn't one before."

"I was taking a special plant," Sirius explained. "I told you before that I wasn't going to allow myself to be married off to a cruel Alpha when I came of age, so I did what I had to in order to prevent that. I'd rather be a servant in this house than a prisoner to an Alpha where I have no escape."

"You have a choice now," Remus insisted, reaching up and stroking the hair from his eyes, that had fallen from the bun and into Sirius' face. "I'll help you escape from here if that's what you wish."

"I wish," Sirius confirmed.

"But I'll help you no matter what. You don't have to choose to be with me," Remus continued. "I don't want you to think you have to just in order to have my help. I care about you deeply. I'll help you find your freedom and we can part ways if that's what you wish."

"Don't you dare," Sirius muttered, clutching the hand that was still fiddling with his hair and pressing it against his cheek. "I love you. I want to run away and be with you. I want to have little picnics and cuddle up together by a little fire. I want to… I mean one day… cuddle up next to you in our bed and…" he blushed, trailing off. "I want to kiss you and hold your hand and just feel your hand on my skin like we are now. I would do anything for you, Remus. You're my chosen Alpha. Please let us get out of here."

"Is there anything you need?"

Sirius nodded. "By rights, this should all be mine. I'm going to take what I can to start us off."

"Sirius, we don't need—"

Sirius didn't hear what else Remus said, having already started down the hall to his mother's room. He knew there was a chest in there, and whilst cleaning, had seen the key many times.

He retrieved it and opened the chest, his eyes widening at the sight of all of his mother's gold—well, what wasn't in the bank. It was enough to start him and Remus off.

He pulled out a pouch that was half-full of gold and began to pour as much as he could into that. As he tied the top of the pouch, he heard the bang of the front door, and he froze.

The doctor was here to take him and Sirius felt sick. He couldn't breathe and he knelt by the chest, frozen.

Remus rushed quietly in, the door closing carefully behind him. "I've locked that room again," Remus hissed, quietly closing the chest's lid. He grabbed the bag from Sirius. "Put this key back where you found it and don't make a sound. I doubt they'll search the house. The door is locked after all so they wouldn't have reason to believe you escaped. Perhaps they'll come to the conclusion that your mother is escorting you to their facility themselves."

The clock on the wall was all Sirius could watch and he focused on the changes of it as Remus listened carefully by the door.

The sound of the front door closing made them both share a smile, yet Remus made them wait a few minutes just in case.

Fifteen minutes passed before Sirius came out of his hiding place. "I'll meet you by the stables," he said.

Remus grinned. "We'll go on Snuffles." He clutched the bag. "You have five minutes to get everything you need and then we'll get out of here - but before you head down, I'm going to do a quick check and make sure we're alone."

Remus gestured for Sirius to go back into the room and he disappeared down the hall. After five minutes, Sirius felt impatient. He should be in Remus' strong arms now. Getting on the horse and riding to freedom. Finding a barn to sleep in for the night, laying in that barn with Remus, kissing Remus. Taking Remus' clothes and… well… Sirius wouldn't even let himself imagine what would happen next. He didn't want to get his hopes up in case Remus was the 'wait 'til marriage' sort. If that was the case, their wedding would be very soon. Especially if he was off the leaves he was taking because heats were a thing.

He came out of his hiding place and moved towards the door again, yanking it open in hopes of finding Remus. Instead he came face to face with an unknown man who was frowning as he walked down the hallway.

They froze, staring at each other before the man with the dark, lank hair smiled slightly. "Mr Black," he drawled. "I was wondering where you had gotten to."

Sirius didn't say a word, quickly assessing the situation. He had expected an older man, too old to give chase but was wrong. Remus had probably been waiting for this man to leave this hallway before coming back and Sirius cursed himself for not listening.

"Can I collect my belongings first?" Sirius asked. "Mother told me to wait here." He was glad Remus had taken the gold - now the doctor couldn't connect that particular dot.

The doctor glanced him over, an assessing look. "I have my men waiting by the door downstairs. You can go ahead of me, or I can call them to assist."

"And my belongings?"

"You can return for them when this is all over. All of our residents wear the same clothing provided. You will not need anything else. To the doors, Black."

Sirius stared at the man for a long moment before turning and bolting. He knew this doctor would give chase. That would give Remus time to help him. He fled through the hallway and to the doors of the servants quarters, almost falling down the stairs in his haste. He avoided the kitchens, not sure if the back door was being guarded too.

He could hear the other man rushing down the stairs after him and he glanced around, trying to remember which rooms had two doors. There was one more option - the cellar. Instead of going for the back door and hoping for the best, he rushed through another door, shutting it quietly behind him. He carefully headed into the cellar, knowing the stairs would creak under his weight if he rushed. Years of experience on the stairs had him know which ones to avoid altogether.

He reached the bottom of the stairs and took a torch from the stone wall, using it to guide his way through the dark room, hoping to find the other end.

He was almost there when a hand reached out to grab him. "You underestimate me, Black," came the man's voice. "This isn't my first chase. I asked your mother about the layout of this place before coming. I knew this was a possible route you'd take. You're coming with me." He grabbed Sirius and pulled him, but Sirius thrust the sconce at him, hoping it would startle the stranger for long enough.

The man shoved Sirius away, his other hand flying out to push the fire from his face, Sirius stumbled backwards, the sconce falling to the floor. He watched in horror as the boxes at the far end of the room began to catch on fire.

The other man looked at the fire for a moment before turning and running up the stairs, leaving Sirius alone. Sirius turned back, hoping he could reach the other side of the cellar in time.

He stumbled along, his hand on the barrels to keep him heading in the right direction. At least the walk was clear of obstacles. It took only half of a minute to reach the other side and he ran up the stairs, reaching the door quickly.

He pulled at the handle. He pulled again. He pushed the door with all of his force.

It was clear what had happened. Doctor Snape had followed him down the servants stairs, worked out he was going through the cellar, and locked the door to prevent him from doubling back before rushing through the house to cut him off.

Sirius turned to look back. There was smoke now and it wouldn't be long before the barrels of alcohol were consumed by the flames. He didn't have time to run through…

But he may die if he waited.

He had to risk it. He ran down the stairs again,

"Sirius!"

He spun around, looking up the stairs where Remus was standing. "Here you are. What… what's happening?"

"Fire," Sirius said. "How did you find me?"

"I've been following you," Remus said, as Sirius rushed up the stairs and into his arms.. "I saw the doctor lock this door and I followed him to the other side. I was going to wait for him to emerge and knock him out with something, but he left alone. I knew you'd double back and come for this door, but one of his guards was lurking nearby and I had to wait. The doctor called him with some urgency and when he left, I came here for you. Is that why he ran?"

Sirius nodded. "We need to leave. This whole place is going up. Do you have that gold?"

"It's in the kitchen," Remus confirmed. "Let's go!"

He grabbed Sirius' hand and began to pull him towards the kitchen. Once inside, he reached for a cupboard in the corner and pulled the bag of gold from inside a large pot, before grabbing a half-packed bag of food and drink. "No time to get anything else," Remus said, yanking open the back door and pulling Sirius towards the stable. "We need to get all three horses out of here. I'm not leaving one behind. You get on Snuffles, I'll tie the other two together and we'll sneak away so no-one will see us."

"Why can't people see us?" Sirius asked, allowing Remus to give him a hand up to the horse. He watched as Remus tied up his two horse and the pair made their way from the stable.

"Because your mother seems determined to keep you under her power," Remus said. "But if we leave quietly, it'll be assumed that you died in the fire. You'll finally be free."

"So we're faking our deaths?"

"We are. Your mother doesn't know anything about me so can't follow me," Remus insisted. "Are you ready? Confident?"

Sirius nodded. "I'm with you. Of course I'm ready."

They rode away from the house, sticking close to the shadows. They didn't slow until they were near the edge of the property, and this time Sirius waited as instructed whilst Remus quietly slipped from his horse and walked out of the gates, taking time to make sure no-one was around.

He came back and the pair rode across the road and made their way towards the hills in the distance. Only then did they stop. Remus pulled the quilt out and set it down on the ground, motioning for Sirius to sit.

Together they watched as the flames consumed the manor in the distance.

"We're free now," Remus said, reaching across the quilt for Sirius' hand.

"Free to be together," Sirius said. "I came back for you, Remus. To ask you to run away with me. I want to spend my life with you."

Remus nodded. "I feel the same. When you're ready of course, I want to marry you. Have a family together. I want you to be my mate."

"I'm ready," Sirius insisted softly. "I don't want to wait. I gave up everything in hopes of falling in love one day and now I've found you. Let's get out of here as soon as we can!"

"It's a day ride to my parents' house," Remus said. "But it's safe there and welcoming. We can stay there until we have a home organised. The Potters are nearby and I think you'd get along with James."

"Is he the Alpha you arrived with that day?" Sirius asked. "You trust me around other single Alphas?"

"I trust that you love me as much as you say. I trust that my best friend will protect you."

Sirius smiled. "I've seen Alphas get jealous over the smallest of things," he said. He slid closer to Remus, leaning his head against Remus' shoulder as Remus' hand slipped around his waist. "How long are we waiting?"

Remus' eyes remained on the fire as it tore down the manor. "Until the fire is out," he replied. "Then we ride all night."

...oOo...

They were exhausted by the time the horses stopped by the tiny cottage on the other side of the kingdom. Sirius almost fell from his horse, but hands were there, guiding him down.

"We're here now," Remus murmured softly, pulling Sirius into his arms.

"What if they don't like me?" Sirius asked, terrified that after all that, Remus' parents wouldn't approve.

"They will because they'll take the time to get to know you. They'll see how special and amazing you are. They'll see how much I love and adore you. I promise you that."

"Remus?!"

Remus turned his head, his eyes fixed on a woman coming out of the cottage. "What are you doing here?"

She beamed as she rushed over and Sirius stepped back, allowing Remus space to greet his mother. Remus grabbed his hand, holding it tightly, not allowing him to move far. When Hope reached them, Remus hugged her with one arm.

"It's a long story. There was an incident at the Black manor. We need to hide."

She nodded. "Tie the horses up out back and your father will tend to them. You look exhausted. Who is your friend?" she turned her gaze to Sirius.

"This is Sirius Black," Remus said, his lips curving into a wide smile. "My… I'm not sure. I haven't officially proposed yet, I guess."

"You're getting married?" she reached out, pulling Sirius into a hug and Sirius gave Remus a panicked look. He wasn't used to this. Affection and kindness were things that other people had in their lives. Sirius only had Remus to offer that. He reached up with his spare hand, hugging Remus' mother in return.

"It's lovely to meet you, I'm Hope - but you can call me Mum if you feel comfortable with it. Come inside, let me make up Remus' bed and you can have a sleep, you look exhausted. I would expect my son to have taken better care of his mate."

"We didn't have a choice. His mother was going to send him away. He was locked up. A fire started… so we ran. Sirius' family are going to think he is dead."

"I couldn't be free any other way," Sirius murmured softly. "We were going to run away together before Mother locked me away. She would never let me go otherwise."

Hope frowned. "Well, you're here now and I assure you I won't be locking you anywhere. Now, you'll take Remus' room and we'll put Remus on the sofa for now." She turned her head, fixing Remus with a stern look and Remus quickly nodded.

"We did bring some gold with us. It's not loads, but we can get a nice cottage or something?" Sirius said, as Hope moved away and Remus pulled him close again. "Maybe we can use a little bit for the wedding? Though something quick and simple."

Remus' fingers trailed down Sirius' cheek. "The sooner, the better," he murmured. "I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with you." He leaned in, but Sirius felt hands pull him away.

"You should get some sleep and my son should be more courteous towards you until you're married," Hope said, with a smirk. "I'll make a special dinner when you wake up to welcome you to the family. There's a heat room in the basement so you let me know when you need it and once you're awake, we'll organise the wedding."

"Thank you," Sirius said, beaming at Hope. "I was quite scared to meet you."

"Oh, don't be scared. My Remus is happy so I'm happy and Lyall will be happy. You must be someone special to have caught my son's attention like this."

"Just a servant," Sirius muttered.

"We're not defined by our job titles," Hope assured him. "Come, sit in Remus' room as I make the bed. You can tell me all about yourself and about how you and Remus fell in love."

Sirius glanced back to see Remus beaming at him. "Remus might need help with the horses."

"He'll be fine," Hope insisted softly. "I think after what you've been through… and I can tell it's a lot, you need to rest. So think about looking after yourself because that's what my son is doing - worrying over you."

She headed to the bedroom and Sirius stood inside of the doorway as Hope went in search of clean sheets. The moment she disappeared, Remus slipped into the room.

"I've been waiting for what seems like forever to do this," he muttered, leaning in and placing a soft, gentle kiss to Sirius' lips. "I love you."

"I love you too," Sirius said, closing the gap between them and kissing Remus again and again until Hope returned and shooed her son from the room.

...oOo...

Sirius' hand rested on his stomach as he stepped outside of the bakery that he had opened up with Remus. After some discussion over the money, they realised they had enough to start a business. Hope had mentioned the lack of a good bakery - and Hope came to help them.

Remus had proven to have no ability to cook. After a few weeks, he had gotten a job at the riding company James was setting up and Hope had taken up working full time at the bakery with Sirius.

Remus met him outside of the bakery, holding a small basket, ready for a small picnic in the nearby park for their lunch, when horses began to pass them.

Quickly, Remus pushed Sirius behind him warily, but it was too late. Sirius glanced up at the nearest horse and gasped.

"Regulus," he whispered.

His brother's eyes widened at the sight and he saw his brother mouth his name. A curve of his lips threw Sirius and he waited for the inevitable. He looked at Regulus' husband - Prince Lucius - and the crown on Regulus' head. Why did they have to be here?

But Regulus said nothing, and Sirius made sure to keep his head down as his mother followed in a carriage, not even glancing in their direction.

"In celebration of the wedding," Remus muttered. "Your brother isn't going to tell her. Your mother might have a lot of control over him, but he's not going to mention you. He looked too relieved that you were alive to allow you to be trapped again."

"What if she comes and takes me away?" Sirius whispered.

Remus turned, his hand settling on Sirius' stomach. "The law wouldn't allow it. My mate and my child. We'd fight. James would fight. Did I ever mention that James is friends with Prince Frank?"

"You did," Sirius said, smiling. "You'd fight for me?"

"I'd never stop fighting for you," Remus assured him. "Come, let's go and have some lunch."

Hand in hand they crossed the road, barely sparing a glance at the horses that were walking away from them.


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