Disclaimer: Anything you recognise sprung forth from the great mind of JK Rowling and ergo I lay no claim.
A/N: For Kileayia, who wanted Sirius/OC from the Hattie Partridge chapter of Disaster. The title of this and several lines (it should be obvious which ones) are taken from Carly Simon's You're So Vain. I hope she won't mind me borrowing them, and if you don't own a copy, go and buy one now ;).
Sirius takes a sip of his vodka – or whatever the hell it is that he's been drinking.
It burns his throat a little and tastes faintly of potatoes, but it's doing its job, rendering everything in slightly softer focus, taking off the edges, and that's what parties like this are all about: nameless drinks and faceless people, music, loud and droning; drowning out the sounds of the world beyond, so for a while they can all believe it doesn't exist.
It's not been a bad one, for a spur-of-the moment thing. More people turned up than he remembers inviting, but that's always the way these days.
His friends have deserted him. Remus is moping, Peter's under the table, groaning quietly to himself, and of course James hasn't made it, because he and Yoko are off doing wedding stuff – charming seating plans, or arranging chrysanthemums, or whatever the hell it is that they've been doing for months. He swears more planning has gone into this wedding than the last assault on a Death Eater stronghold.
For the last half an hour, he's been stuck chatting to two girls – Veronica and Lucy, he thinks their names are, although to be honest he's not entirely certain. When they introduced themselves he wasn't really listening, and sometimes he gives girls the names he thinks they should have rather than remembering the ones their mothers gave them, which has lead to him coming a little unstuck at crucial moments on a couple of occasions.
Veronica laughs, rather falsely, and Lucy takes a sip of her beer, gazing up at him as if she expects him to say something. He can't be bothered, and so he just takes a sip of his whatever-the-hell-it-is and offers her a thin-lipped smile.
It's not that they're bad looking. Veronica's got this dirty blonde hair that's artistically piled on the top of her head and big brown eyes, and Lucy's cute – all pink cheeks and cherry lipstick, but he can't claim either one of them is really holding his attention. They keep glancing at each other, their eyes widening, and he gets the impression that they're only talking to him, flirting with him, because he's Sirius Black.
At one time, that wouldn't have mattered to him – he'd have well and truly taken advantage of whatever leverage his old name brought, but now….
He's not jealous of James and Lily, that's not it. But when they're together, it's like the world seems a better place for them – and it's not that he wants to settle down because he can't imagine anything worse – he'd rather gouge his eyes out with his wand – but he'd like to know, if only for a bit, what that felt like, to be in the presence of someone who made the darkness go away.
And Veronica and Lucy – Violet and Lydia? – are never going to be girls like that, and he knows it, and suddenly he finds himself a bit bored by their attention.
He scans the room. In the corner the couple who scared Remus off are really going at it, and he wonders if they need a cold shower spell. After all, he's prepared for crisps in the carpet and beer on the walls, but there are some stains he draws the line at.
Next to them are a couple of blokes who were in the year below them, Hufflepuffs – he remembers one of them was keeper on the Quidditch team and stopped James scoring, once. James ranted about him for days until Peter pointed out that wasn't it nice to have a decent opponent for once? James had conceded the point, cornered the guy in the corridor and shaken his hand – and he'd looked utterly confused about it, but had been genial enough all the same.
Sirius wonders why it seems like years ago, decades even, that Quidditch was the most important thing in the world.
His gaze continues round the room, noting faces of varying degrees of familiarity – and then something – someone catches his eye.
She's changed a bit – her hair used to be long and now it bobs around her shoulders, hangs in waves, and her delicate features peek out from below a long fringe – but unmistakably, it's her. She looks tougher, too, her arms toned beneath a shirt she fills every inch of, and she's standing with all her weight on one leg, a challenge to the world to come and have a go, if it thinks it's hard enough.
Suits her, he thinks, and for a moment his eyes don't waver.
She catches him looking, meets his eye and raises an eyebrow, and he smirks involuntarily and turns his attention back to the two girls he's talking to – Verity and Louise, or whatever the hell their names are.
One of them's saying something – something about some behind-the-times story in The Daily Prophet, the scandal of Imperiused Ministry employeesHe smiles, but doesn't listen, because it's nothing he hasn't heard before and they've got all the details wrong, anyway.
Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Susan Dixon watching him, and his blood quickens in his veins.
She's with a dark-haired girl he thinks he recognises from school but can't quite put a name to. A friend? he wonders. Easily dispatched so they could be alone?
Louise says something, and Verity replies, leaving a gap for him to join in if he wants, but he doesn't even bother to smile by way of reply this time. At least not at them. He manages a small grin to himself, the cause of which is the girl with the mousy hair and the intriguing expression.
He wants to look up again, look at Susan, see if she's still looking at him, but daren't for fear of what his eyes might give away.
But the thing that his eyes might give away doesn't stop him saying something flirtatious to Verity, making her giggle, even though he's starting to find her laugh a bit irritating, and she steps closer, possessively, just as he'd hoped she might, and now he can't resist it.
He looks up, ignoring the girl in front of him completely, meeting Susan's eye.
She holds his gaze for a second, just long enough to make sure he won't look away, and then her eyes take a long, slow sweep down his body. He follows her gaze until it rests on his stomach, and then watches her expression, the smile pulling on her slightly parted lips, the ever-so-slight twitch of consideration on her eyebrows beneath her fringe.
Her eyes roam back up again, and meet his, and she raises her eyebrow, noting him noting her getting her own back. Her expression is just a little bit teasing, and he knows she knows it, and feels something he hasn't felt in a while:
Susan Dixon is all grown up, and more than a match.
For a second, he wonders if he should go and find Remus, tell him she's here and watch him fall to pieces, but for some reason the thought isn't particularly appealing, and he finds himself consumed by the irrational worry that the instant anyone else knows she's here, whatever this is will be over.
Lucy/Lydia/Louise puts her hand on his arm – probably to try and get his attention, he thinks, and he turns back to her, although his heart's less in it even than it was a minute ago. He throws her a toss-away line, one he's used on a dozen girls to great effect, and predictably she giggles and her fingers tighten on his arm. Veronica/Verity/Violet glares, and he wants to tell her not to worry, that he doesn't have the slightest interest in her friend, but he doesn't.
Susan clocks the hand on his arm and smiles – her eyes darting from the hand, to his gaze, and back again. She raises her eyebrows in inquiry, 'are you..?', and he shakes his head –
She cocks hers and gives him a half-nod by way of reply, the corners of her mouth moving towards a smile, but not quite making it – and minutes pass, but her eyes stay locked with his, and he can't bear to look away for fear of what he might miss out on.
There are dozens of people in the room, loud music, chatter; but in that instant, with Susan Dixon's eyes on his and his on hers, they all swirl into the background, nothing but faded colour and indistinguishable sound, and it's as if they're the only two people there, with everyone else mist at their feet.
Susan's friend knocks her arm with her elbow, and Susan smiles faintly and looks away.
The track on the WWN changes – they've been listening to Muggle music all night, because these days it's not fashionable to like the same stuff as the pure-blood maniacs who only listen to wizarding music, and Sirius Black's parties are nothing if not with the times – and for a second he wants to laugh because he can't believe what's come on.
Dum de dum de dum
He looks over Veronica's shoulder to find Susan's eyes fixed on him again, her mouth hitching into a smile that's as pretty as he remembers, only sexier than he thought possible.
Dum de dum de dum
He's not sure how, but he knows she's thinking the exact same thing that he is, and that if he goes over, she'll ditch her friend and accept his offer to nip outside for some fresh air.
Dum de dum de dum
Her friend says something to her, and for a second, her eyes leave his while she replies, but then they're back and full of promise, and while his heart echoes the bass line, she fixes him with an enticing stare from beneath her fringe.
The piano chords kick in, and she gives in to a half-grin momentarily, and then, as he watches, she mouths the words of the song right at him, her eyes never wavering from his.
You walked into the party, like you were walking onto a yacht….
She's word perfect, in perfect time, and he looks away and laughs, and then meets her eye again, because nothing in the world could keep his eyes from hers. She goes on mouthing the words, holding his gaze captive for a second –
Your hat strategically dipped below one eye, your scarf it was apricot.
You had one eye in the mirror, as you watched yourself gavotte.
And all the girls –
Her eyes dart to Veronica and Lucy, but she doesn't stop mouthing the words, and her eyebrow quirks in amusement.
dreamed that they'd be your partner….
He sniggers, raises his fingers to his mouth to try and keep it in because Veronica and Lucy are now wearing positively baffled expressions, but he doesn't care.
They'd be your partner, and –
You're so vain.
She rolls her eyes dramatically on the word 'so' and then meets his eye, and there's amusement and challenge in them, and he finds the combination utterly beguiling.
He wonders how it's possible for her to mock them – him – with the raise of an eyebrow and pop lyrics, but she does, and he loves it, and then her eyes flicker to his lips, and then back up again, and slowly, she raises an eyebrow in invitation –
"Excuse me, ladies," he says.
Veronica and Lucy follow his gaze, but he's gone before they've figured out where he's looking.
By the time Carly Simon makes it to the end of the first chorus, Susan has ditched her friend and they're outside, cool air nipping at their skin under the stars. She rests her shoulders on the wall, dangling a beer bottle loosely from her fingers, and he leans on the wall next to her, the brick digging into the skin of his elbow. For a moment, they just listen to the sounds of the party, Carly Simon singing about clouds in her coffee, and he just lets his gaze linger on hers.
Her eyes drift up to the stars and she brushes her fringe out of her eyes with her fingers.
"I don't remember inviting you," he says, and she looks back at him through her eyelashes and offers him the first hint of a challenging smile.
"That was remiss of you, wouldn't you say?" she says, and he laughs.
Yes, he thinks, very remiss.
"How was I supposed to know you wanted to come?" he says, although what he wants to say is that how was he supposed to know that she'd turned into the sexiest woman he'd seen in a long while, the only one in ages to make him laugh, the only one in the room he thought was remotely capable of making him forget that beyond the doorstep were a million different ways for him to come to harm.
She raises an eyebrow, and then lifts her beer bottle to her lips, taking a sip. He traces the outline of the label on the bottle, watching as she lowers it again, wondering what to say. "I came with a friend," she says.
"I saw. Won't she be annoyed with you for abandoning her?"
Susan laughs. "Nah," she says. "Hattie knows how to make her own fun."
"Really?" he says, smiling slightly. "She sounds like my kind of girl."
Susan suppresses a grin and looks away over the wall at the end of the garden. "She's not," she says quietly, and then glances back.
"No?" The grin tugs again – he can see it, in the line of her chin, and it takes her extra effort to suppress it this time, and he can't resist letting a smile form on his own lips at the thought. "How about you?" he says.
"What do you think?" she says.
He looks down at the ground beneath their feet, and it's only when he sees them with his own eyes that he realises how close their shoes are, and realises, by implication, how close they are, too.
Still, he inches closer. "I'm not sure I can say," he says, dropping his voice a little so she'll have to lean in to hear him. "We haven't seen each other for ages – I don't even know what you've done since then."
"Medi-witch," she says, shrugging. "Keeps me busy."
"I'll bet," he replies.
"Not that I think, for a second," she says, her voice so low he has to lean in to hear it, "that you're interested in tales of my heroism."
He raises his eyebrows in objection, but smiles, too, because she's right. He didn't come out here for small talk. He came out here to see if she could make the world go away.
She shifts closer, meets his eye with the same invitation she did earlier, and it's all the invitation he needs to inch forward. She looks up at him, smiles a little, and he's suddenly aware that their hips are touching, that her arm is almost pressed against his side, and he hadn't noticed, because his mind, everything, was held by those eyes.
His pulse quickens, and, as he leans in, he feels her breath on his lips. He pauses for a moment, a hair's breadth away, just to prove he can, wondering if she'll make a move, or wait.
She takes an audible breath – surprise or anticipation, he can't tell which – but he likes it whatever it is, and it makes him give in and cover her mouth with his.
It's not an elegant kiss, there's no finesse to it – their mouths collide more than meet, their lips snatch, hungrily, and their erratic breathing rings in his ears –
But he presses her back against the wall, and it feels amazing. His hands move up her sides until her face is in them, and she drops the bottle she was holding. It smashes at his feet, but he barely registers it, because all he cares about is her fingers on his neck, and then twisting in his hair, her lips on his –
It's a moment before he realises that the world really has faded away.
When he wakes up, she's already pulled on her jeans and is doing up her shirt, and for a second, he just watches. With her hair falling in her face as she looks down and the early morning light behind her, she's completely captivating.
As she runs a hand through her hair to straighten it, glances up at the mirror, she notices he's awake. "Sorry," she whispers. "I was trying to be quiet."
He props himself up on his elbows and looks at her. "I'm glad you weren't," he says, and she smiles.
For a moment, neither of them says anything, but sometimes he thinks that silence, how it feels, if it's awkward – or in this case palpable not – speaks volumes. "I've got to go to work," she says.
"Ok," he replies. "I'll Floo you – we'll go out."
A rather wry smile crosses her face, and for a second he can't fathom what it means. "You don't have to say that," she says.
"You don't have to say the things you think I want to hear."
"I'm not – "
"I know what you're like," she says, "I knew what you were like last night, and I didn't care."
She smiles at him again, and then turns for the door, to leave. But he doesn't want her to, and so he sits up, and catches her wrist. She turns back, her eyebrows raised in surprise, or question – probably both, and so he threads his fingers through hers and pulls her back to him. She perches on the edge of the bed next to him, and whispers the word, "What?", her eyes all over his face, trying to fathom what she's seeing.
"I'm not always like that," he says.
He holds her gaze, and this time they are the only people in the room, but it's the same feeling he had the night before, like everything else is background, swirling at their feet.
It feels like an age that she looks at him, considering his words, and then the corner of her mouth twitches into a smile. She takes his face in her hand and kisses him, once, softly – much more softly than she ever did the night before – and says, "Ok, then."
She gets up, and looks at him again, half smiling, half eyeing him as if she can't quite decide if he'll do what he says or if it's a line – but the look in her eyes says she can't wait to find out which it'll be.
She slips out, and for a while he drifts back to sleep, and then gets up, surveys the detritus in his lounge, and goes to the kitchen to make a drink.
The world is still the same, he thinks, but somehow it feels different.
He sits at the table, smiling to himself, and stares into his mug. There are clouds in his coffee; for the first time ever, he wonders if they're dreams.
A/N: Marauder-flavoured party favours to anyone who reviews ;).