The weekend, the last weekend at Hogwarts was dark and rainy. Noelle opted to stay at the castle and complete her packing. Plus, she knew that Sirius was going to be there with Laura, and she couldn't bear to see him with her. Lily was in the library, looking up a new charm that she had been trying to figure out for weeks. James was in Hogsmeade, along with Remus. Colin had asked her to go, but she had declined. He had looked slightly put out, but she had assured him that she just had to get all of her things together for the train ride home the next day.
She lay back on her bed and tucked her hands under her head. She mentally inventoried her trunk. She was sure she had everything she had brought to school packed. Thunder and lightning crackled outside, making the sky light up an ominous dark purple. She coughed slightly and reached for the blanket at the end of her bed. As she drifted off, she wondered what Sirius was doing right then.
In fact, Sirius was miserable. The rain was the last of his concerns. First off, Laura had whined about walking in the mud since they had left the castle. He had had to bite his tongue so he wouldn't make a nasty comment to her. Now, she was chattering away beside him, and he was struggling not to yawn. His mind kept drifting to Noelle. He had seen Colin, with a bunch of his Slytherin friends, so he knew she wasn't with him. He also knew that she knew he was with Laura, thanks to James and Remus teasing him about it in the common room the night before. He had seen the hurt look on her face, and her attempt to cover it up. He felt awful hurting her like that, but in a way, he felt kind of glad.
Thankfully the afternoon was almost over. He reached for his glass and drained his butterbeer. Reaching for his wallet, he threw a few coins on the table and stood.
"Sirius? Is everything all right? You seem quiet."
Laura's girlish voice broke through his thoughts. "What? Oh yeah, I'm fine."
He stood. Quickly she finished her drink. He started walking toward the door, not waiting for her. The rain was coming down in sheets.
Laura squealed and jumped closer to him. He had to fight not to pull away from her.
"Oooooh, I hate mud!" she complained.
He grunted in response. When they finally reached the castle, she made a big production of shaking the water from her hair and robes.
At the staircase that led down to Hufflepuff house, he turned to say goodbye to her. She leaned in to kiss him, and he quickly turned his head. Her kiss landed on the corner of his mouth. She blushed with embarrassment.
"Well, goodbye then." She said.
He had already begun the climb to Gryffindor tower. He lifted his hand and waved.
With his head down, he made his way to the dormitory. In the common room, he found Noelle curled up in front of the fire, all by herself. She saw him come in and she stared critically at him. She put down the book she was reading.
"Have fun?" she said icily, getting to her feet.
Noelle pulled a small mirror out of her robes. Flipping it open, she held it up to his face. There was a smear of pink lipstick on the side of his mouth. He wiped at it furiously, but it was too late. Noelle was already storming away.
The next day, all the students filed down to the carriages waiting to take them to the Hogsmeade train station. Lily and Noelle hopped into one of the first carriages. Once on the train, they managed to get a compartment all to themselves. Noelle stretched out as the train pulled out of the station. When the food trolley came along, she bought some snacks to share with Lily. James poked his head in about an hour into the trip.
"Can I come in?"
The girls nodded. He flopped down into a seat. Noelle handed him a chocolate frog.
"Thanks." He said gratefully.
With his mouth full of chocolate he said,
"Laura's in our compartment. I felt myself getting dumber every time she opened her mouth. I had to leave."
The girls laughed. "What Sirius sees in her baffles me." Lily said.
Noelle grunted in agreement. James reached for another frog.
"Well, he's only seeing her to get over you."
Noelle quickly looked up.
"I mean, everyone knows he liked you."
Noelle sighed. "It is better for him not to like me."
James opened his mouth to ask why, but a warning look from Lily silenced him. Noelle rose.
"I'm going for a walk."
She slowly walked down the corridor of the train. A few doors ahead of her, Laura emerged from a compartment. Noelle kept walking.
She quickly looked up. Laura was staring at her with a self satisfied smile on her face.
"I bet you don't think you're so special now that Sirius Black dumped you." She said smugly.
Anger rose in Noelle like flames. She steeled herself and said.
"I never thought I was someone special, Laura...but thank you for thinking so."
She pushed by the taller girl before she could work out what Noelle had said.
Quickly, Noelle slid a compartment door open and ducked inside. Colin was there, all by himself.
"Oh. I'm sorry, I didn't think anyone was in here."
He smiled brightly. "No, please sit."
She took the seat across from him.
"What are you doing this summer?" he asked her.
Her face lit up. "I am going to Cannes. We have a summer home there. You?"
He yawned and said, "Probably nothing. There is the Ambassador's Ball in July, so I'll probably have to go to that. Other than that, maybe interning at Gringotts. I'm not sure."
Their conversation was light as they bantered back and forth. After about 20 minutes, she rose to return to Lily. He stood too.
"Send me an owl this summer Noelle. I'd like to hear from you."
She smiled and nodded. He reached his arms out and wrapped her in a hug. She relaxed against his body and hugged him back. He was so tall that she only came up to his chest. She pulled out of his embrace. Blushing slightly, she left the compartment.
Down the corridor, Sirius had heard what Laura had said to Noelle. His blood had boiled angrily. When Laura came back into the compartment, he read her the riot act. She blubbered and cried, then fled the compartment. He sat back down heavily. He wanted so badly to make amends with Noelle. He hated being at war with her. Before he knew it, the train was grinding to a halt.
On the platform, parents were happily greeting their children. He strained his neck, but didn't see his parents anywhere. It didn't surprise him. They never met him at the station, and usually left him to find his own way home. He heaved his trunk off the ground and loaded it onto a trolley.
As he pushed his way toward the gateway to the Muggle platform, he saw Noelle chatting with her parents as they waited to go through. He gathered all his courage, and walked over to her. She noticed him coming, and busied herself with the latch on Etoile's cage.
He cleared his throat and she looked up at him.
"Have a good summer, Noelle."
Her face relaxed into the smile that he loved so much. Their eyes met, and volumes of unspoken words flew between them. She reached for him and hugged him. They embraced tightly until Noelle's father cleared his throat. They pulled apart, with their eyes still locked with one another's.
At that moment, there was understanding between them. Sirius slung his bag over his shoulder. He nodded to her parents. Then, with his eyes back on Noelle, he backed away from her, still smiling.