A/N: If anyone wonders where the idea for a Sirius/Rosmerta story came from, it was from a quote in PoA. Hosting the meeting above the Broomsticks, Rosmerta said, "Of all the people to go over to the Dark Side, Sirius Black was the last I'd have thought…I mean, I remember him when he was a boy at Hogwarts. If you'd told me what he was going to become, I'd have said you'd had too much mead." Those little ellipses and the defensive sounding "I mean," made me wonder... Nothing much is known about Rosmerta. The HP Lexicon speculates that she's in her thirties or a little older, since she was running the pub when the Marauders were in school, but what if she made the bad choice to run off after her sixth year…and came back to run the pub in Sirius' seventh? What if they met again in a way that became the start of a complicated romance? I don't think it's beyond the realm of possibility, considering Ron's well documented crush on her in the books...and that a certain HP actor admitted to a "friendship" with his makeup artist who was a similar number of years older!
Behind aviator sunglasses, Sirius Black's eyes crinkled in a smile. He felt like grinning, but had learned through experience bugs were not tasty. He smiled with lips firmly closed.
The view of the Scottish countryside was impressive, but Sirius slowed his flying motorbike only to double-check the motorway below. No Muggle travellers were in sight. He thought of Muggle aircraft and smirked as he told himself, you are cleared for landing, before disengaging the invisibility booster. The bike descended rapidly. Within moments, the wizard had adjusted to riding pavement instead of air. He gripped the handles and accelerated, bending low as the bike surged forward. Sirius leaned into the curves, felt the rush that came with speed and revelled in the intoxicating sense of freedom.
His destination was the Wizarding village of Hogsmeade. A wry grin spread across Sirius' face in response to the memory of James' reaction to his plan to stash the motorbike before term. His best mate and former manager of mischief did not approve. He was Head Boy now, advising caution and moderation. How the mighty had fallen.
Fallen for a girl, although Jamie-Boy pretended the fifth year prank gone wrong had made him re-evaluate his life. Sirius knew better. There was a redhead behind his friend's change in attitude. Mental about Lily Evans, James Potter was determined to win her over by reforming his marauding ways.
Sirius reached the village and slowed the bike to a sedate roll down narrow streets. Frowning, he thought there was no reason why James couldn't win the Head Girl and have fun too. This was their last year at Hogwarts! The reputation of the Marauders was at stake. It was a moral imperative they go out in such a blaze of glory, their deeds would be immortalised and their memory revered by all mischief-makers to follow.
His anticipatory smile caused a chain reaction in the villagers Sirius passed. Shopkeepers smiled or waved. A trio of little girls skipping rope stopped to giggle behind their hands. Further down the main street, a crone directing her enchanted broom to sweep the pavement outside her cottage looked up and called, "I've got a pan of gingerbread cooling in the kitchen, Mr. Black."
Stomach rumbling, he coasted to a stop beside the kerb. "Knew I was coming, Mrs. McFee?"
Remus Lupin, the social conscience of the Marauders, had been the one to suggest they do odd-jobs for the widow to balance their mischief. Mrs. McFee accepted all help gratefully, but Sirius knew she liked him best. She was always baking sweets, claiming he needed fattening up. Peter Pettigrew had turned pale, hearing her say that, and shied away from the enormous baking oven. Later, the boy had confessed to worrying she would toss him in, like a witch in a Muggle fairy tale, because he was already podgy.
Sirius grinned over the mental image of Peter in a roasting pan complete with apple and laughed when she nodded and cackled, "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes!" Her tone changed from Shakespearean to motherly when she added, "Don't leave without your gingerbread, young scamp." Gnarled fingers reached out and gently pinched his wrist. "There's not enough meat on these bones."
"Girls like me lean and hungry, but I'll stop back," he promised with a wink, before continuing on to The Three Broomsticks. Although he did his drinking on the sly at The Hog's Head, Sirius, like every other student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, preferred the Broomsticks. It was clean, had a real fire instead of sullen coals in a grate, and served food that wouldn't land him in the infirmary.
Outside the pub, he lowered the kickstand, noticing there were flowers in window boxes that had been empty as far as he could remember. The fall colours looked nice. He smiled to see smoke drifting from the chimney. Even with a warming charm, his ride had been chilly. He dismounted and stepped toward the door.
Inside the shadowy entry, he halted abruptly, staring at the woman behind the bar. He hadn't seen Rosmerta in ages- since the girl had run off after her sixth year. Seeing her still made his heart leap in his chest. Pulse racing, Sirius felt the blood rushing to his face exactly the way it had second year, during that fateful visit to the Restricted Section…
Scowling, the young wizard prowled toward the back of the library. Tired of being annoyed by slobbery displays of unwanted affection, he had decided to find an Aversion Charm that would work on just girls. Sirius didn't want his mates taking him in dislike, or professors either. He still had another week of detention left with Slughorn. He didn't want any more. There were only a few weeks left until summer holiday!
James had thought him joking, but Sirius would have the last laugh when girls left him alone and batted their eyes at someone else. Approaching the shelf Remus said should contain the correct tome; the boy heard a soft noise and dropped to a crouch. Slowly, he moved forward and peered warily around the stacks. What he saw made his jaw drop.
A couple was snogging on the window seat. Sirius had seen people kissing before, but this was strikingly different. Robes and blazers and ties were strewn on the floor. The boy was kissing the girl like he wanted to devour her. Eyes closed, her lips parted on a moan. The boy shifted her in his arms, kissing her throat and caressing down her arms while she leaned back against his chest.
"Rosmerta, my goddess..."
Sirius was riveted by the passionate scene, even though he wanted to tell the slimy blond Slytherin to leave the girl alone. He had heard rumours that the seventh year Chaser was after the popular Hufflepuff, but hadn't believed them. He'd thought Rosmerta too smart to believe a snake's lies.
He'd been wrong. Sirius watched the boy's fingers undo the bottom button of the girl's blouse and move up to work on another one. She laughed huskily. "I may be named after a fertility goddess, Jonathan Wilkes, but I'm not letting you worship me."
The watching eyes travelled from the smooth, pale skin of her abdomen to the rosy lips and cheeks surrounded by tumbled gold curls. All at once, Sirius Black understood why blokes went off their rockers about girls. Face hot, he was torn between conflicting desires. He wanted Rosmerta to close her blouse…and he wanted Wilkes to finish opening the front clasp of her bra.
Suddenly, the girl's eyes opened. They were so blue…and growing wider as they focused on the silent witness.
"Jonathan, stop! I've got to get back to my house. I promised my friends I'd help them revise."
While her boyfriend laughed and continued to reach for the elusive clasp, Rosmerta mouthed 'GO!' at Sirius. He nodded and crawled away before standing and breaking into a run.
Back in the Gryffindor common room, his friends were playing wizard chess. James looked up when he drew near, saying laughingly, "Did Pince catch you in the Restricted Section? You look like you've seen a ghost."
"No, I just didn't find the book." Sirius dropped into a nearby chair. He tried to forget what he had seen, but the knots in his stomach told him the memory was going to haunt for a long, long time.
Sirius walked toward the bar, shaking his head to clear away the past. When Rosmerta looked up casually and then did a double take, a confident smile tugged the corners of his mouth. Even though she was lovely as ever, he knew he'd changed a hell of a lot since second year. Nobody called him pretty-boy anymore. His smile widened. Birds did call him bloody gorgeous. He impulsively decided to make a boyhood fantasy come true. Sirius took off his sunglasses and went to chat up his dream girl.
Rosmerta had been polishing a glass when she heard the front door open. After a couple minutes of silence, she looked up briefly and then took another, longer look at the man entering. The first thing she noticed was his fit body encased in a battered leather jacket and denims. Her polishing motions became slower. The swagger in his walk told her he was used to the admiration of women, even before she got a good look at his face.
And what a face it was… Overlong black hair framed features that would've been too perfect if it hadn't been for a slight bump where his aristocratic nose had been broken. The wicked glint in piercing gray eyes said he was a bad boy who would show a girl a good time. Appearing to be around her age, the customer's smile was as sinfully appealing as the rest of him.
Too bad I've sworn off men. She sighed, the glass dropping from her fingers to the bar. He picked it up and held it out. Their fingers brushed. The chemistry was immediate. Deciding that a friendly chat never harmed anybody, she smiled with her eyes as well as her lips. "Thanks. What can I get you?"
His slow grin warmed better than hot chocolate. "I'm driving, so I'd better stick to Butterbeer."
She filled a tankard with the warm, frothy beverage and placed in front of him. "Driving what?"
Oh Merlin, what was that old film she'd seen on the telly when visiting her Muggle-born friend during school holiday? The Wild One… Rosmerta hadn't understood half of what those Yanks said, but one line was memorable, and she could picture this bloke responding to the question of what he was rebelling against with Whaddya got? She tried not to laugh. "Cool."
He gave a bark of laughter. "Yeah, that's what I thought, literally, flying here from London. Summer is definitely over."
"I don't mind. I'm enjoying the change." She was speaking of the recent change in her life as well as the weather, but Rosmerta wasn't about to ruin a light-hearted flirtation with heavy subjects.
"I haven't seen you tending bar before. Have you just moved to Hogsmeade?"
Rosmerta shrugged. "I grew up here. My father owns the pub. He asked me to come back and run it, so here I am." She reached for another glass to keep her fingers from doing something rash, like smoothing back his silky-looking hair. After smiling into his eyes for several moments, she asked, "Do you come by often?"
The attractive stranger chuckled. "Every weekend I can."
Now she had another reason to look forward to weekends- more custom and a gorgeous man to occasionally drop in for a chat. Her smile widened. "I'll look forward to your visits."
He leaned toward her. "I've got a confession to make. I always liked this pub, but now I find it downright irresistible."
Was she blushing? No, it was just warm. She'd added a few logs to the fire right before this charming rogue strolled in. His seductive smile provoked her to show two could play that game. Setting the glass aside and bracing her hands on the polished bar, Rosmerta leaned down until their eyes were level. "Oh, really?"
His eyes looked smoky now. She fought the urge to fan herself.
Masculine lips curved temptingly. "In fact, I'll make an Unbreakable Vow that nothing will keep me away, if you'd like."
"No vow is necessary. I'll be happy to see you whenever you stop in." His heated gaze was causing a melting sensation she hadn't felt in years. Rosmerta wanted to prolong it. "Are you hungry? I was just about to take a dinner break, and I'd enjoy the company." She broke off, laughing ruefully. "Merlin, I don't even know your name. I'm Rosmerta, and you are…?"
"Sirius Black! Good to see you, lad!" called Hagrid, groundskeeper at Hogwarts. Lumbering into the pub, his smile flashed through a thick black beard. "That's a fine motorbike you've got. Are yeh sure you won't mind me takin' it out for a spin now and again while yer in school?"
"Feel free. After all, you're doing me the favour of storing it."
As Rosmerta listened, it felt like all the blood drained from her head and then returned in a painful rush. She knew that name. In amazement, her eyes flickered over the young man who she remembered as a second year with an angel's face and wide, staring eyes. Mother of Merlin, he'd changed! Grown so tall, with features that had lost all trace of baby softness…like his muscular body. With effort, she pretended Hagrid's revelation wasn't a complete shock. Inwardly, however, she was reeling from the knowledge that Sirius was only a seventh year. Stars and stones, she'd been coming on to a schoolboy!
Immediately, her mind began to rationalise. I wasn't trying to get on with him; I just wanted some pleasant company for a change.
"C'mon, lad, let's bash on before we get chucked out. Rosmerta here needs her dinner, and I've got stew and treacle fudge waiting for us."
Afraid Sirius would mention her rash invitation, she said, "Enjoy your supper. It was nice to meet you, Mr. Black and good seeing you, Hagrid. Goodbye."
Tossing a few Galleons onto the bar, the boy, who looked way too manly for her peace of mind, said with a meaningful look, "Au Revoir."
Till we meet again.
She gave the bright, impersonal smile she'd perfected over the years and resumed polishing an already spotless glass. Hopefully, Black would get the hint and not expect to take up where they'd left off the next time he wandered in. Glancing up, she met a steely gaze and flinched. He'd got the message, all right, and didn't like it. Her chin lifted. Too bad.
He reacted strangely to her look of defiance. Sirius smiled.
Rosmerta closed the pub after the men left, warded the door and headed to the stairs. Maybe Da would have more of an appetite today. Knocking on his door, she pushed it open upon hearing the terse 'Enter'. "Hullo, Dad, the steak and kidney pie is almost done. What would you like to drink with it?"
The invalid propped up on the bed turned his lacklustre gaze from the window. "One o' thae ales."
Heartened that he'd replied with something other than a shrug, she teased, "Heather ale?"
Features that had been full and strong before the climbing accident were now thin and frail, but his eyes hadn't changed. Right now, they blazed blue. "Don't be daft. Not enough colour."
"How about a glass of the wee heavy?"
The hint of a smile in his voice was something new. She took a calming breath and asked, "Would you like some company? I could read you the Prophet."
In the weeks since she'd returned, he'd never accepted the daily offer. This evening, her father nodded. "Might as well see what You-Know-Who's bin up to in the world."
Rosmerta promised to return shortly and hurried down the stairs. She didn't want to read about the darkness of the times, but if it made Da happy, she'd pretend the stories didn't bring up bad memories. For the first time, she had some hope their broken relationship could be mended. That her father would forgive her for running away…just like her mother.
After a long visit, Hagrid dropped his passenger off at the outskirts of the village. The young man had assured his friend that he wanted to walk off the unforgettable dinner. Proud of his cookery, the half-giant grinned and waved goodbye. Sirius marvelled over the magic that allowed the motorbike to expand to fit its rider. The sound of the engine revving into high gear made him chuckle. Once he was alone on the roadway, Sirius shifted into Animagus form and began to run.
His stomach rumbled as he drew near the kitchen entrance of the Broomsticks. He'd used a vanishing spell on his inedible stew at Hagrid's, and the smell of meat pie made him salivate. The back door opened. His ears perked to see the woman exiting. She held up a pie tin. "Any stray interested in leftover steak and kidney, come and get it."
He bounded toward her, halting when he saw the look of alarm on Rosmerta face. The huge black dog gave the woman his puppy-dog look and whimpered.
Her pretty features relaxed. "You startled me! I was expecting a lop-eared cat, not a small bear." Laughing a bit, she said, "I bet you find it hard to cadge a meal, looking so much like a Grim. Folks round here are superstitious." She placed the tin on the ground and backed away. "Lucky for you, Grimmy, I'm not."
He padded forward and began to eat. Gods it was good. The half of pie was wolfed down. He licked his chops afterwards, gazing up at her hopefully. She pointed to a basin beneath a spigot set against the house. "There's water. If you're still here in a minute, I'll give you the steak bone."
His tail wagged as he trotted over to lap some water. Back in second year, he'd happened to come across the interesting fact that in Latin, Rosmertae meant 'the great provider.' Sirius had thought it matched well the Celtic attributes of fire, warmth, and abundance. When she returned and bent to extend the bone, he gave a woof in admiration of bountiful curves before taking it. She crouched down to pet him. He closed his eyes to enjoy the feel of her hands on his fur.
"I wonder if his hair would've felt as silken as yours."
Canine eyes snapped open. Ha! She'd been taken aback to learn he was younger, but that didn't keep her from thinking about him. Of course my hair is equally silky, he thought, there's just not so much of it, and none at all on my back!
"I've got to reopen the pub. Goodnight, sweet doggie." She gave his head a final pat, picked up the pie tin, and walked away.
He gave a low whine, watching the sway of her hips. After the door shut, he exhaled heavily and turned to leave. Although he wanted to talk to Rosmerta again, it was better to back off and allow her time to remember how much she'd fancied him. Let the present replace the past image of him in the library. The next time he saw her, she'd be ready for him to work some 'Black Magic.' For now, Sirius would settle for Mrs. McFee's gingerbread to satisfy his craving for something sweet.
The Wild One is an old Marlon Brando film, and even this Yank can't understand half of what he says, lol. Mrs. McFee isn't the Mrs. McFee of story and film, but she does weave her own brand of magic in this fic. :D If readers have enjoyed the chemistry and the characterisations, and look forward to more, I'd love to 'hear' in a review. Encouragement and feedback is always appreciated! Extra special thanks to cupcakeswirl for beta-reading my chapters and encouraging me to write faster. :D