.P U S H.

I could hardly breathe when I reached the common room, expecting not to have to rush up to the dorms. I knew the exact place where he would be sitting, looking at the fireplace as if the flames had done something to personally offend him. His hair would reflect the firelight, making it look a dull granite instead of the deadly obsidian it truly was. His eyes would also dance with orange and yellow, the fire showing what he would never, himself, willingly portray—sadness.

He did not disappoint.

"Sirius," I breathed, leaning, quite out of breath on the threshold to the common room. My body slumped forward, and I grabbed a nearby armchair for support. Hardly anyone but he or I were up this early—late—whatever it was, leaving the common room deserted. Slowly, as if he could hardly believe he was hearing my voice, he turned to me.

Suddenly, I found myself very much out of words. As much as I had thought of them on my run back from the dungeons, none came to me now; my mind was a complete blank.

"Avalon," he said, perplexed, "where've you been?"

Sighing, I made my way over to him, sitting carefully on his right. His other arm was resting against the arm of the couch, his hand supporting the weight of his head. I crossed my legs in front of me, letting my gaze drift to him. He seemed to understand my need for momentary silence, for he did not speak.

"Voldemort is a strange and twisted leader," I whispered, losing myself in the flames as they licked gently at the grate, "he feels no remorse for his injustices, and pities no one, not even those who follow him. Last night he knew everything, and I didn't even have to tell him. He knew about Lily, about James, about my kindness towards those of lesser blood. He knew about you.

"I thought I didn't need you, Sirius, to feel… is good the word? I don't know, maybe that's too gentle a sentiment." I shook my head slowly, keeping my eyes to the fire. I couldn't look at him, not while I told him everything, "I thought I could protect you by staying away, by making it look like I wasn't interested in being with you, but Rabastan. But The Dark Lord is no idiot, and as much as I'd love to save you, he'd see right through my ruse. He knows… everything I feel for you, he felt it himself tonight. I want you as far from me as possible, and yet, I can't help but be so close, Sirius."

Carefully, fearing everything and anything that his face would portray, I looked back to him. There was coldness splayed across his features, his eyes were dripping with malice.

"He did that to you?" he hissed, standing from the couch. His arms were shaking with rage, "because of me, because of us?"

Shocked, I denied it, "No, no, Sirius, because of me, because I was a fool to get so involved! Don't you see? I'm meant to be on his side or no side at all! I don't even deserve to think about caring for you." I had never been one to cry, but around Sirius Black I was a completely different person, a completely different soul. One that had potential, one that held a frightening sense of compassion for him.

"You're right," he breathed, "you are a fool."

He shook his head, and for a moment, my heart sunk. This was rejection; this was the point in time everyone feared, man or woman, to be rejected by those they cared for most. Could it be possible for my heart to break any further?

But before I could think, before I could fall to my knees, before I could do anything in any semblance of rationality, he was kissing me.

His lips, as I had always imagined them to be, were soft, his touch missing any shred of decency, of tenderness. He was embracing me with abandon, pure, raw emotion fueling his actions. Had he wanted to be as close to me as I wanted to be to him? Was he kissing me just because I'd poured out my feelings all over the common room floor? Or was he doing it because he felt something too, because he just… wanted to?

"Avalon," he whispered, his lips breaking away from my unresponsive ones, "for Merlin's sake, stop thinking."

A smile touched my lips, and I carefully traced his jaw, memorizing every dip and contour, feeling the slow pulse of his chin beneath my fingernails. He was more beautiful now than he ever would be again, more genuine, more loving, than he would be for the rest of our lives. I cherished that moment.

Taking his face between my hands, I leaned close, our breaths mingling by our proximity.

"Tell me you feel something," I hummed, the vibration of my lips echoing onto his, "before I risk both our lives."

Shaking his head, he leaned his forehead to mine, "I feel more than something with you," he told me, "I feel everything."

I pressed my lips to his, our mouths meshing in an erotic dance. I felt his body dip, and then his hands around my thighs, lifting my body onto his. Shamelessly, we fell together onto the couch, Sirius' body creating a maddening friction between my legs as he settled there. Neither of us were ones for taking our time, and so his hands moved up my sides, caressing for the briefest of seconds, my heaving breasts. Our lips were still fighting furiously for control of one another's, but none of us was going to win.

"We can't do this here," reluctantly, I pulled away, laughing at the disappointment in his voice, "people will be getting up soon." One of his hands was still far up my shirt, and he pulled it away slowly, the reality that he had interrupted our first kiss crashing down on me. I scowled, rolling my eyes and letting my head fall back to the small pillow behind me. His head, likewise, fell to my chest, and his exhausted eyes finally closed. My breathing hardly made his head rise, but he seemed to enjoy listening to my heartbeat.

"I never thought I'd be here," he murmured, lips disturbing the fold of my (still torn) oxford shirt.

"Here with me?" I asked, feeling the night's events claiming my coherency. We both had yet to sleep, and the fatigue was taking its toll.


As my eyes slid shut, my brows pulled together, "Why?"

"You seemed so resilient at first, so tough," he laughed, "and then I thought you and Rabastan were a match made by someone much higher up your family tree--."

"I broke that," I whispered, "my father would hate me."

Sirius allowed the interruption, continuing as if I had not spoken, "The first time I saw you, in that pub, I thought you were gorgeous, and I couldn't stop asking James about you, after then. He was angry at me for taking interest; you're like a little sister to him."

"But he knew I was with Rabastan…"

Sirius chuckled, lifting his head to look up at me, "He also knew that I usually got what I wanted."

My smile was wicked, and with gentle fingers, I caressed his lips, "Do you now?"

"Yes," he conceded, not happily, "but with you it was different. There were so many obstacles, and so I never thought I'd even get this close to you."

"How horrible of you to give up so quickly," I admonished with a breathy chuckle, my voice hardly audible, "I'd expect better of you Mr. Black."

He hummed his response, and I could tell he was exhausted as well. Both of us had spent the night away from the castle, restless and fighting for lives that were not our own. Where Sirius had been fighting to keep Remus contained, sane, I had been fighting for him.

We fell asleep, time elusive to us as we drifted.

"Well, looky here, Lily, a couple of slackers who've missed all their classes."

I rolled my eyes open, seeing James above me, Lily beside him, smirking. Lazily, I gave them both the finger. "Shuddup."

James ignored me, looking instead at his best mate who was still sleeping comfortably on my chest. His eyes narrowed, and in a swift motion, Sirius was on the floor, groaning. I sat up quickly, glaring up at James, "What the ruddy hell are you doing?"

"You've been sleeping all day," he shrugged, "and I didn't much appreciate you position," he rounded on Sirius who was sitting up now, massaging his head, "what did I tell you, Padfoot? Avalon is…"

"A big girl," I growled, cutting him off, "able to make her own decisions. Finish your sentence, James, so I can justify your imminent castration."

He scoffed, "A big girl who makes horrible decisions!"

"Wha'?" Sirius shouted angrily, rising to his feet, "how am I a bad decision?"

James laughed without mirth, "You're only one of many," turning back to me he snarled, "what are you thinking?"

"Oh, you know," I waved my hand in the air, my tone heavy with sarcasm, "maybe I'll just be his latest conquest, have a good shag every now and again. Then, I'll try to convert him to the dark side, maybe get a tattoo of his name on my arse…" I narrowed my eyes, "Obviously that's what you're expecting."

"Sirius is not a boyfriend, Av," he told me seriously, missing Black's enraged face, "I've been privy to his 'conquests' much more than once. He's not good for you."

Sirius stepped up to James, getting right in his face, James not backing down, "Stay out of this, James, she's not yours to protect."

"Oi," Lily cut in angrily, "you're acting like a bunch of cavemen! James… be reasonable. They care for each other."

Angrily, he spun towards his girlfriend, and I knew how he felt now—betrayed. Lily was on his side… and now she wasn't. What was going through his mind? What has the world come to?

I'd been there.

And yet I couldn't find it in myself to comfort him, to run after him as he stomped away, out the portrait hole and into the darkness of the halls. I couldn't suck up my pride as Lily did seconds later, shouting his name and following his footsteps. I wasn't that sickly sweet, not yet.

My eyes found Sirius', and we both just stared at the other. I took in his ruffled shirt, pulled completely from his pants that hung dangerously low on his hips. I took in his deliciously messy hair, and that disarming grin.

Oh, Sirius, what you do to me.

The corner of his mouth quirked up further and he shrugged, "Breakfast? I'm bloody starved."

I laughed, the tension slipping easily from my shoulders, "I've ruined James," I huffed, "I mean… you and James."

He shook his head, stuffing his hands into his pockets, "Not even close, love. James and I… we fight. It happens. But we never hate, do you know what I mean? It won't last long."

For a second, I wanted to reply, to tell him he was wrong, but what did I know? I was estranged from James a long time ago, pulled out of his world. Who was I to say he would hold a grudge?

Smiling, I looked down at myself—and grimaced, "I'm in desperate need of a shower," my gaze shot to the stairs, "I'll meet you down here in fifteen?"

I suddenly froze outside the Great Hall, and Sirius took a step forward, my dead hand halting him in his tracks. He turned to look at me, his fingers squeezing mine between his own.

"Are you sure?" I whispered, "Are you sure you're ready to let them see us? You will be in danger from here on out if you are, Sirius, I can promise you that. Remember, he wants this to happen; he wants me to be close to you. "

His mouth formed a hard line, "But you're not doing this for him. You're not playing his game."

A couple of fifth years passed us, whispering and laughing as Sirius pulled me close into his arms, his hands grasping at my small waist.

"No," I whispered vehemently, "no, I'm not."

"Good," he murmured back, kissing my forehead. I tilted my chin, reaching for his lips. They touched mine gently, before I jutted to my tiptoes, wrapping my arms around his neck and smiling into our kiss.

"Let's go," he stepped away from me, holding my hand firmly in his. I followed him, a little tense, a little self-conscious as we stepped through the doors. It felt like everyone's eyes were on us, but it was only one table, a few pairs of hard, cold orbs, a few frowns that I noticed. No one else cared enough to look.

Rabastan sat in the middle of the Death Eaters, staring, shaking. He was more than furious; he was blinded by a white hot rage. His fists clenched, he stood, he growled, until Rodolphus pulled him back down. And not once did my eyes leave his. I tried to say sorry through them, but my apologies didn't reach him.

I was jerked from my stare when Sirius pulled me down on the bench beside him, giving me a vague look before joining in the breakfast conversation with Remus and Peter. Lily and James were naught to be seen, but I could hardly concentrate. I wasn't in my self, but somewhere, worrying in a world all my own. I couldn't stop the anxiety, couldn't stop the guilt. It was one thing to go down, but to drag Sirius with me? Another sin entirely. How black was my soul now?

"… and he just storms out, the bloody git, as if he was the one who was being thoroughly insulted."

I looked back at Remus, watching him look pensive over this morning's events. His eyes shot to me when Sirius was flashed his attentions to Peter, and they saw right through me.

"Hullo," he murmured, "Y'alright?"

"I'm fine," I said tiredly, picking up Sirius' unused fork and twirling it between my fingers, "just wondering when James will come around."

"Soon, I expect," he furrowed his brow, "He and Sirius have this disgusting way about them. They never go to bed angry."

"Shut up, Moony," Sirius pointed his knife at Remus, and then plucked his fork from my reach, "it's not like Prongs and I are married."

"Hmm," Remus chuckled, "I believe that you could pass as a couple every once in a while; finishing each other's sentences, doing homework together. It's rather cute, really."

Despite myself, I had to laugh, and Sirius' frown increased, "Who does homework anymore, Moony, honestly…"

I leaned closer to him, my chin resting on his shoulder, "Nice way to change the subject."

Suddenly, he turned toward me, lips brushing mine in a gentle caress—and all we heard next was a loud, clattering bang from the other side of the hall. Rabastan was making his angry way towards the doors, and my stomach dropped into my arse. It was a horrible feeling, really.

"Don't worry," Sirius soothed, restraining me as I made a move to go after him, "He's a big boy, you're not meant to comfort him anymore."

And sure enough, it wasn't me to leave the Great Hall after him, it was Rodolphus. But I couldn't just sit there.

"I'm gone to the loo," I told Sirius quietly, nuzzling my nose to below his ear, "be back in a moment."

He caught my arm as I rose to leave, "Don't go after him, Av."

Smiling prettily, I ruffled his hair, "I'm not."

He didn't believe me. I wouldn't believe myself either.

But he let me go.

I found them both sitting outside the doors, Rodolphus shouting angry insults at his brother, Rab just sitting there, taking them.

"Obviously she's over you," Rodolphus growled, "it's been months, Rab, go shag something already."

"Rodolphus," I called out tentatively, watching his face melt into one of anger, "can I have a moment?"

"Oh," he sneered, "right, just come shatter him summore. That's exactly what I need; to pick up the pieces again." He sped away from his brother, his hand deathly cold on my shoulder as he stilled next to my person, "He'll kill Sirius, you know, when Voldemort finally decides to unmask himself? He'll love it. He'll do it for you. How could you want that?"

I don't. I wanted to say, but the words were stuck in my throat.

"Rab," I cooed, standing in front of him. His eyes were hard, angry, and his fury frightened me.

"Last night was wrong," I began, not able to find the right words but plowing through the wrong ones, "I shouldn't have come to you, but you know why I did. I was scared for them, scared for Sirius. The Dark Lord wants them all, and I just wanted to protect them. If I was with you, he would have no way to get to them, can't you see?"

There was no response, only the shifting of his eyes to meet mine, "I loved you once," I whispered, "I did. But that's over now. I'm with Black, I'm happy with him. Can't you accept it?"

He rose to his feet, and I stood my ground, feeling his hot breath on my face as he towered above me. I didn't want to look into his eyes, for fear of the emptiness I would find there.

"No," he hissed virulently.

And then he was gone, sweeping back into the school, his otherworldly grace a sight to behold. Biting my lip, I recognized my failure. It wasn't only Lord Voldemort after Sirius and James now, it was Rabastan, all of Slytherin maybe.

I wasn't sure whose wrath would be the most incensed.

What I was sure of, however, was that it couldn't have been more my fault if I tried.

The library was quiet, the only noise that of Sirius' breathing and my quiet, nearly silent humming. We were studying together, though I had hardly read past the first line of Chapter Twenty Eight in my Charms textbook. Sirius' dark, smoldering eyes were on me, and I could only smile.

"Why are we here?" he asked all of a sudden, "I mean, you haven't turned the page once in this forsaken hour. I know you aren't really reading."
"It's kind of hard to read when you're burning a hole through my head with your eyes."

He scoffed, reaching across the table to pluck the book from my hands. He tossed it down the table, and I stared after it with an odd sense of detachment as it slid.

"Come on."

"Come on?" I mimicked incredulously, "come on where? I'm studying, Black."

He gave me a sardonic smile as he took my hand, lifting me from my seat. I met him at the end of my table where he took my hand again. Dragging me along, Sirius did not stop or even slow until we got to the third floor—an abandoned corridor.

"If you think I'm going to be romanticized…"

"No," he pressed a finger to my lips, his eyes shifting to look at the bare wall beside us. For a moment he simply stared at it, before smiling. I turned my own gaze to the wall, to find not a wall at all, but a door.

"What…?" I whispered, touching to intricate mastery of the door.

"Room of Requirement. And I just so happen to require a little alone time with my beautiful girlfriend," he laughed at my look of disbelief, dragging me into the room with a devilish grin. The space was small, but large enough that I didn't feel smothered by Sirius' constant need for proximity. There was a bed—of course there was a bed—a red duvet lay over it, inviting and warm, the color of passion. A black couch rested lazily in front of the growing fire in the grate, and the rug beneath my feet was soft, but short. If the rug had been furry and orange, I would have to second guess Sirius' class.

"Like it?" I hadn't even noticed him move behind me, but I certainly felt his hot breath on my neck, the shivers it extracted from me, "I bring all my dates here."

I scowled dryly, "what a charmer you are. Truly."

"I'm kidding," he smiled, sliding his hands painfully slow around my waist, so that they rested indecently low on my hip bones. My lip slipped between my teeth, and my heart beat a little faster at his rough, loving touch.

"Avalon," he whispered, and somehow, not being able to see him, made me want him all the stronger. One of his hands left the warm handles of my hips, sliding upwards, undoing the buttons of my uniform blouse on its way to my bra. I let my head loll back onto his shoulder as he caressed the small mounds of my breasts, traced softly the crescent edge of my bra. Other fingers slowly crept down my thigh until they reached the hem of my skirt, the calloused and the experienced hands of Sirius Black learned the gentle contours of my flesh.

I hadn't ever felt more like a traitor than I did in that moment. It wasn't the way Sirius held me, so intimately, or the way I whispered his name, with him imitating me, replacing his title with my own. It wasn't the gripping thrill that went through my body as he slid the sleeves of my shirt down my arms, or the way that my lingerie followed them without a sound. It wasn't the crimson blush that spread down my neck, onto my chest as he unabashedly gazed at me, as if I were a sculpture of beauty. It was simply that I loved it, every moment, every whispered nothing in my ear, every murmured promise that I knew he wouldn't, couldn't keep. It was only that I wanted more, that I took no shame in being cherished by the enemy.

And for once, I couldn't find it in me to care.

I'd never met such hands, fingers that could work wonders on my skin as Sirius' did. He lay me down, as if I were made of porcelain, on the bed sheets of scarlet. My naked chest met his, clothed, the fabric of his uniform creating uncomfortable friction against the fragile skin of my breasts. I swept it off him, depositing it somewhere next to the bed in indifference.

Our eyes were locked in a serene battle, for what, I wasn't sure.

"I don't want this to go too far," he said quietly, saying the words as if he already resented them, "I kind of… want to wait. I've never been very virtuous, I'll admit, but…" he looked at me with hopeless eyes, and somehow, through the fog of anticipation, I understood. He wanted to wait… to see if this would last. To see, perhaps, the same thing I was dreading. To see if we fell in love.

I smiled up at him slyly, fingering just inside the waist of his trousers, "Are you sure?" I tried to make my voice steady.

He breathed out shakily, the sensitive skin of his stomach quivering beneath my fingers, "I don't have to be chivalrous, you know," he warned.

"I never asked you to be, Sirius. You took that upon yourself."

He laughed, "I suppose I did."

I sighed, a bit of disappointment hidden beneath my breath "Maybe… we should go back then," I murmured as I reached for my clothes, "I'm tired."

I could say that I don't care

but the truth I'd follow you anywhere

I've been waiting such a long, long time

don't you dare change your mind

So sorry for my tardiness.