I don't own any of the Harry Potter characters

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He didn't see Lily again until breaktime, when he found her sat in a secret passageway that James had shown him a few years previously. At first, Ricardo considered leaving her be, and avoiding the difficult confrontation that he knew was neccesary, but wasn't sure he was ready for.

"Lily?" He asked tentatively, slowing his steps down as he held the tapestry open, as though debating retreat. She looked up at him from her large book and smiled brightly, waving her wand and making it disappear into nothing. He grinned at her ability and walked in, sitting himself down beside her, looking up at the flickering light on the wall.

"So James told you about this one too huh?"

Lily grinned. "Yes."

Nodding, Ricardo looked around at the familiar, small corridor, dusty yet surprisingly free of insects and bugs one might expect. "Do you come here often?" He said softly, looking at her sidelong and inquisitive.

She shrugged. "When I want to be alone. Or when I'm reading..."

He smiled. "Getting away from everyone else, right?"

Lily blushed, nodding her head slowly.

"Do you want me to go?" He asked eventually, feeling slightly uncomfortable.

She shook her head fiercely. "No. It's just that Scorpius doesn't like silences, so he always asks questions about stupid things..."

Unable to resist a jab at the other boy, Ricardo said, "does he know about this place?"

Lily smiled, "no."

"You didn't tell him?" Ricardo asked, feigning shock.

"Why would I?" She asked, sounding slightly bored.

"He's your best friend!"

"James is my best friend." It was a factual statement, and for some reason it slightly hurt Ricardo's feelings. He pushed the thought away and nodded.

"He's my best friend too..."

Lily smiled. "Mine first though."

He shrugged. "Technicality."

There was a comfortable silence, before Ricardo looked at her once more and whispered, in a voice almost undetectable, "thank you."

She looked at him, frowning. "For what?"

He raised an eyebrow. "For sitting in the dark and reading your book," he drawled sarcastically. She smiled.

"That's ok. I enjoy it."

Ricardo looked at her briefly, then nodded. "Me too." He wasn't really sure what she enjoyed, or if he was pushing the limits too far, but then suddenly she had shuffled closer to him and rested her head on his shoulder.

"Ricardo?"

"Yeah..?" he asked mutely.

"Do you think Scorpius fancies me?"

There was a strange twinge in his stomach as she said it, and he wished dearly that it would simply go. "Yes..." he answered stiffly. "At least..." he sighed. "Yeah... he probably does."

Lily waited several seconds before asking quietly, "how do I tell him no?"

Smirking, he whispered, "tell him you're secretly in love with me."

She giggled, but shook her head. "I don't think so... that's our little secret."

Ricardo pulled her against him tightly, pressing his face into her hair and whispering to her quietly. "Pinky swear?"

"Pinky swear." She replied, grasping his little finger and squeezing. He smiled.

"If you were four years older..." Ricardo said softly, then stopped himself, sighing.

"If I was four years older what?" She asked, pulling back.

Ricardo looked at her, then smiled. "It doesn't matter Lily, really..."

She shrugged. "Ok..."

-----

Naturally, he realized as he walked down the corridor that he had made a foolish mistake, one that he himself couldn't begin to describe or decipher. He didn't understand the feelings slowly mutating within his stomach, causing a combination of delight and pain everytime he saw his best friends innocent sister. There was no reason for any of it, and though he hoped desperately that he was somehow misreading his own body and minds signals, he was beginning to realize that something was not quite right; when it came to Lily Black, Ricardo was in turmoil.

When it came to Lily Black, Ricardo was becoming intricately obsessed.

When it came to Lily Black, Ricardo began to realize he was stuffed.

----

A month seemed to pass, and Ricardo watched it go by without really noting any of it. James began seeing a Gryffindor, much to the chagrin of the rest of the school. He was sleeping with her, eating with her, doing homework with her, even occasionally flying with her, despite being on opposing teams. Ricardo didn't really talk to her; he didn't really care. More important to him was James' younger sister, who seemed to manage to appear at every moment of his spare time; he couldn't find the reasons to send her away, despite knowing it was ridiculous. Still his mind and heart battled to decipher his feelings for her, yet nothing seemed clear; the idea of kissing her was ridiculous and, in reality, sickening, but there was an inept pull that seemed to emanate from her, which made him want to spend every available moment in her presence. He was terrified and excited whenever her head appeared round the corner. There was nothing better in the world to him recently than wrapping his arms around her in a gesture of goodnight as she headed toward bed, and yet at the same time, it became the most horrifying and awful part of his day. And then, in the last week of term, as his turmoil seemed to be drawing to a close, James asked him the same question he posed every year; did he want to spend Christmas at James' house? He initially thought no, but instead, he said he'd think about it. He could tell from James' face that he was shocked, but Ricardo found himself seriously considering the possibility of Christmas and New Years at the Black's household.

And then he was sat opposite to Lily at dinner, and the answer fell out of his mouth before he could stop himself. "James... you reckon your Mum and Dad'll let me drink?"

James spluttered into his drink and looked at him blankly. "You're actually going to come?"

Ricardo shrugged and looked at his bowl. "Yeah... I reckon I'll give it a shot anyway... I mean... I don't have anything better to do and.. well... your Dad might be interesting."

James grinned, and looked as though he might say something, but was then pulled backwards into a kiss by his girlfriend Lola, who decided to take that moment to plunder his mouth with her tongue and not allow him to surface for an hour. Lily made a vomiting noise and Ricardo grinned, looking up with a sly wink. "Nice view Lily?"

She stuck her tongue out. "So you're coming for Christmas are you?" She asked, swiftly changing the subject. Scorpius looked disgruntled, to Ricardo's delight.

"You bet'ya." He spooned cereal into his mouth and smiled. She beamed at him happily, then turned to Scorpius and engaged him in a conversation about transfiguration homework.

-----

A week later, as he sat on the loud, rattling scarlet steam engine that was the Hogwarts express, he was having second thoughts; two weeks of uninterrupted time in Lily's presence, with James' and his two brothers there too, and under the watchful eye of an alleged -though admittedly untrue- mass-murderer, sent chills to his very core, and he considered that when he got off the platform he would run through the crowds and apparate as quickly as possible to his own home... yet as he rose to collect his trunk, he felt a small hand tugging at his sleeve, and looked down into Lily's eyes as she smiled brilliantly up at him. "Come on," she said, grabbing his hand, "James said to make sure you don't run off while he's in the toilet."

Ricardo couldn't help but grin; only James would think that low of him. "Alright," he said, momentarily convinced that running away was an incomprehensible idea anyway; he'd only have James to face in two weeks when he had to see him again. "But maybe don't hold my hand in front of your dad," he winked, "he might think I'm making demands of wedlock before warranted as 'proper'."

Lily giggled, but pulled him along anyway, not releasing his hand. "He won't mind!"

Ricardo wasn't so sure. "Are you positive about that..? I'd mind very much!"

Lily smiled, "yes, but you're not my Dad."

Thankfully, Ricardo thought wryly, or this situation would be even stranger than it already is. "Do you think he'll like me?" He asked, suddenly nervous.

Giggling, Lily pulled him forward. "I don't know," she grinned. "Maybe he will... maybe he won't."

He gulped. It was alright for her to laugh; she'd grown up with him.

-----

As it turned out, Sirius appeared to be simply an older version of James; aside from a few flecks of grey in his dark crop of hair, his smile, eyes and laugh were every bit like the seventeen year old boy who reappeared a few minutes later with his hair slightly mussed and a smudge of lipstick on the corner of his mouth. Ricardo and Lily exchanged a quick grin, then looked away, sniggering like two little children who'd eaten too many sweets. As they reached Sirius, Lily released Ricardo's hand and threw her arms around her fathers waist. A joyous laugh emanated from the older mans throat as he lifted his eleven year old daughter into his arms and spun her around joyously.

"Theres my girl!" he laughed, squeezing Lily's small frame in a tight hug, setting her down with a warm smile that none of his younger sons had managed to elicit. Ricardo watched as James was greeted by his father, pulled into a hug that spoke volumes, but Sirius' eyes returned to Lily, and James, nor Remus nor Alastor, seemed remotely surprised, as they were greeted by their mothers glowing smile. Ricardo watched from the outside, feeling sectioned off from both Lily and James by the force of their families closeness in their reunion. He sighed, feeling empty, shoving his hands in his pockets, and looked around.

A small hand closed on his arm,and he looked down to see Lily looking up expectantly. "Dad," she said, pulling Ricardo forward slightly. "This is Ricardo. James' friend."

Sirius looked at Ricardo in assessment, eyes trailing up from toes to head, a smirk tugging at his lips as he spoke. "James' friend hey, Lily?"

Lily blushed red, just as Ricardo struggled to keep eye contact with the ex-convict who looked as though he were picking out a broomstick. Sirius looked at him for a moment, then winked. "I'm Sirius Black," he said, offering a hand in greeting. Ricardo took it, comforted by the rough callouses that peppered the other mans hand.

"Ricardo Marquinez," he said, dropping Sirius' hand after a few moments. A horrible, all too familiar, look of recognition reached Sirius' eyes.

"Marquinez?" He repeated, his voice soft. "As in...?"

"Yeah," Ricardo said abruptly, looking away and blinking rapidly.

Sirius stared for a few moments, and both of them remained oblivious to Lily looking from one to the other in confusion. "Right then," Sirius said finally, "Hermione come over here and meet Ricardo!"

Thanful for the distraction, Ricardo looked up, smiling kindly at Hermione Black as she reached out to give him a gentle, mothering hug, which he returned gladly, hiding his slight surprise and taking comfort from the woman who he'd heard so much about. "It's good to meet you both," Ricardo said, pulling away and nodding briefly to Sirius.

"Don't get ahead of yourself," Hermione smiled. "You may well think differently after a week with this lot!"

Grinning, Ricardo nodded, and out of the corner of his eye saw James smiling with relief. A smile passed over his own lips as he fell into step with the family; maybe this Christmas, he'd have fun.

----

I need to apologize. I'm at Uni now, and I don't get much time for my fanfiction. I'll try to get back into it as much as possible though. Sorry!

Reviews appreciated.

Mage of the Heart