Chapter 1

Sirius Black was lying on the bed in the Potter's guest room, appearing to be reading one of his schoolbooks but really lost in thought.

There was a gentle rap on the door. James Potter poked his head around the door, his usually cheerful face wearing an expression of apprehension.

Sirius put the book down and sat up; waiting for his friend to tell him what was going on. "Padfoot... you have a visitor..." he said hesitantly, his tone suggesting it wasn't a visitor Sirius would want to see. "Thanks Prongs... tell who ever it is I'll be right down..." Sirius said wearily.

He walked down the sweeping staircase and entered the drawing room.

A young witch in a long dark-green dress was standing with her back to him. A petite witch with a slender, shapely body and long wavy hair the same shade as his. He didn't need to see her face to recognize his cousin. Bellatrix.

"What are you doing here?" he said in a cold voice. She turned around, her face falling slightly as she saw he didn't look happy to see her.

She quickly placed her usual haughty expression on her lovely face. "That's a fine way to greet your cousin" she said archly.

"As for what I'm doing here… I'm sure you have already guessed. Your dear mother sent me to try and persuade you to come back home. I told her there was no point… to give you up as a bad job… but she wouldn't listen to me" she finished flippantly.

"A bad job… is that what you think of me?" he said in a dry voice. She could hear the slight trace of bitterness in it. "You know what I think of you…" she said in an uncharacteristically soft voice.

A look of pain flashed over his face. He turned to face away from her, avoiding her large dark eyes. "Why did you come here?" he said in a hoarse, rather brittle voice. "I told you…your Mother…" she started irritably.

"No" he growled, cutting her off in mid-sentence. "That's your excuse" he continued harshly, meeting her startled gaze. "Why are you really here?" he asked. His tone was hostile, dark eyes boring into her face.

For a moment neither of them spoke.

"I… wanted to see you. I missed you…" she said in a low quiet voice, her eyes fixed on the floor. She slowly raised her gaze to meet his. His expression held triumph, sadness and something she couldn't quite identify.

"Finally… a moment of honesty" he said evenly. A hurt expression flickered over her face. "What did you expect? You left without saying goodbye. Even to me…" she said in a soft yet accusatory tone.

"I couldn't…" he said in hollow voice, his eyes not meeting hers. "Couldn't or wouldn't?" she snapped, dark eyes blazing as she took several steps to towards him. "What did you think I was going to do?" Bella hissed. "Try to talk you of it? Rat you out to Mummy? Tie you to the bed to stop you from leaving?"

He remained silent, eyes pleading with her to drop it. Her gaze was merciless as she took another step towards him. "Why?"she demanded.

"Because it's too damn hard!" he yelled; pain clear on his face. An expression of surprise and sudden realization spread over her face. "How could I say goodbye to you?" he finished.

Bella looked rather ashamed of herself. "Siri… I… I'm sorry…" she said softly, reaching out to touch the side of his face.

She was way too close… he could smell the sweet, dark musky scent of her perfume… and he couldn't think… couldn't help leaning in…and her lips were inches from his…

Suddenly someone standing in the doorway behind them cleared their throat. Bella and Sirius pulled back from each other abruptly, guilty looks on both their faces.

James stood in the doorway, an expression of disbelief on his face. Bella looked from James to Sirius and back again. "I have to go…" she said hastily.

James's and Sirius's eyes followed her as she swept from the room.