Author's Note: Sorry about the long wait, but I'm having a little trouble with inspiration...and finding time to write.
In neither the tallest nor the shortest tower at Hogwarts, two students were completely stunned. They were perched on two spindly chairs, sitting stalk still in front of the most powerful man either had ever known. A lemon drop lay, sour, on the girl's tongue. The very same man who had given out said muggle candy was, not surprisingly, the cause of said astonishment and general dismay. The old man with his outrageously long white beard had just finished telling them that they could accomplish together what he, with all his brilliance and extraordinary power, could not. Not only that, but the very same thing that no one yet discovered could accomplish. Well, until now, anyways.
The two students were still dressed up in all their finery. The girl was slightly pretty, but certainly not extraordinary in appearance, and was wearing a long brown ball gown, and the admittedly handsome, oogle worthy boy was dressed up in expensive fancy dress robes. But for the moment all that was completely forgotten. Sometime during the conversation each had grabbed onto the other's hand for comfort. Outwardly their expressions were merely of shock, but on the inside both were screaming out in the most extreme fright.
"So you see," Dumbledore finished his long spiel with a sad smile that also somehow displayed his helplessness, "either you two defeat Voldemort somehow or another prophesy will be born. But this alternative destiny will leave you and your friends 'dead, outcast, betrayed, and beaten,' and Voldemort will still rise again 'more evil by far,'" Dumbledore sighed and studied his students morosely, "but, as with anything, you do have a choice. I suppose the two of you will need some time to think everything over. So back to your dorms with the both of you. Chop, chop."
It probably showed the severity of their shock that both left without another word. At another time they would've had question upon question, but, for now, the astonishment covered up everything else. The two teenagers simply got up and walked out, still holding hands tightly. This was a fact that Dumbledore was happy to note, despite the circumstances. For the first time since lifting up the tablecloth to discover two of his young charges, a true smile lifted the corners of his mouth to match the twinkle in his eyes.
Walking quickly in spite of their numbness the two students quickly reached the Room of Requirement. Taylor was already walking past it when Sirius stopped.
"I think we should talk…alone," Sirius told her ominously and began to pace in front of he blank stretch of wall.
"Er…in the middle of the corridor?" Taylor asked tentatively, suspecting the worse.
Perhaps Sirius would 'break up' with her despite the fact that they weren't even actually together. She was sure that, at the very least, he would kick her out of the Gryffindor boys' dorm. Not an encouraging sign, he also appeared to have completely lost his marbles. Or, as Taylor liked to say, 'he chased his marbles over the deep end.' If he'd actually ever possessed any marbles, she wasn't sure. She certainly didn't, especially after tonight. Tonight. A night full of such hope and fear and horrible revelations.
Marbles or not, she wasn't going to make this easy on him. She had given up on too much in her life to simply let him waltz out on her. Besides, she suspected that he was just freaked out because of that stupid prophesy thing, not because he'd just discovered his deep and abiding hatred of her. Which made all the difference in the world. Yes, she would fight to keep Sirius to herself, just as her friend if it came to that. But hopefully they could work out something more…satisfactory.
"No," Sirius corrected her as the door popped quietly into existence, "in here."
He grabbed her hand once more and dragged her inside. The Room had seen their need. It was currently decorated in a comforting red and gold. Truth be told, it looked a lot like a smaller version of the Gryffindor Common Room. He tried to lead her over to a well-worn couch, but she pulled out of his grasp. Sirius felt a pain in the region of his heart at the loss of contact. Realizing this was not a good sign seeing as what he was about to do, he stiffened his resolve. He would live up to his noble Gryffindor heritage, even if he had not been born into it. And he certainly wouldn't be the one responsible for bringing her harm, like some sort of…Slytherin.
"Wait," Taylor said when he opened his mouth to begin the speech he had half perfected during the short route from the Gargoyle guarding Dumbledore's office to Barnabas the Barmy, "I want to go change. Is that possible in this strange, need-meeting room?" Although she knew something was coming that she wouldn't like and would have to struggle her hardest to prevent, there was true curiosity in her voice.
"Yeah," conversely, Sirius's voice was hard, "just imagine a bathroom and a set of…pajamas or something. Whatever you'd be most comfortable in, I guess," he added in a stiff voice. Suddenly a door appeared to Taylor's left where no door had been before. She looked at it speculatively.
"Thanks," she smiled at him, almost melting his resolve once more. "A girl could get used to this," she murmured to herself, opening the door.
Sirius sank on to the couch and ran a hand through his hair in a manner very reminiscent of James. A comparison he wouldn't have liked, as he preferred his own, considerably less wind blown, hairstyle.
A raging debate was boring holes in his head. He knew that he should just cut this girl out of his life as soon as possible. It wasn't just that Sirius hated having anyone or anything controlling his life. He didn't like having his life laid out before him, already planned by another person…or, in this case prophesy. And this prophesy was removing all choice from his life (no matter what Dumbledore said about "your life is not preordained, your choices will determine what happens, fate is nothing but a little prod in the right direction"). And that very lack of choice was the very reason he left his family, after all. Well, other than them being pureblood sadists, that is.
No, the real reason he had to never talk to her ever again, after this air clearing Room of Requirement conversation, was because this whole prophesy thing made everything ten times more dangerous for them. When they were simply a blood traitor and a half blood they were on Voldemort's hit list, albeit very low on his list. But if they suddenly became the blood traitor and half blood that held the very secret to his eventual downfall simply by being together, the two of them became one of Voldemort's priorities. And nobody, not even his most loyal Deatheater, would ever want to be that kind of priority to him. The two lovesick teens would be tracked down and killed, mercilessly. The Ball was certainly enough evidence of that. The very fact that Deatheaters were able to get into the school, and their only reason seemed to be instilling fear and attempting their capture, was not a very uplifting or encouraging sign.
Still, Sirius didn't want to cut her out of his life again. If anything he wanted to pull her to him and never let her go. However, if letting her go was what was best for her…if it saved her from pain…and misery…and possibly death…well, what else could a Gryffindor do?
Meanwhile, Taylor was making up her own mind, and her thoughts were leading her along entirely different avenues. If these two were enterprising enough to sell tickets to the upcoming "discussion," and had though of it, well, the seats would have been sold out. The two of them were stubborn enough, once got to arguing and defending their positions, to make the show interesting…with the possibility of bloodshed.
Taylor walked out of the bathroom, slightly self-conscious. When she had first walked in she had asked the room for a pair of pajamas that most suited her, and had felt slightly silly for talking to a room. Embarrassingly, these clothes had appeared. For the rest of the time that she had been holed up in there she had been asking for a different pair, thinking these probably wouldn't help her situation out in the other room. But nothing happened. Sighing and submitting by pulling them on, she decided to stall further by washing her face and pulling her hair down. Great, she now looked like some sort of wild child who had been raised by a kindly pack of wolves. Ones that had provided her with love, compassion, raw meat, and face wash.
Sirius looked up at her from the couch and his mind suddenly went completely blank. Standing in front of him was the most beautiful girl he thought he'd ever seen. Of course, it didn't help his sudden wave of overpowering possessiveness that she was wearing his old beaters jersey.
He remembered that he'd once hid out in this strange and wonderful room and had asked desperately for a change of clothes. Filch was angrily roaming around the corridors outside looking for the poor person who'd tracked mud onto his floor from Quidditch practice. Normally he wouldn't have minded Filch's wrath, but he'd already had a month's worth of detention.
But now his jersey looked clean, and much better on her than it had on him, even if it did practically reach to her knees. Under the jersey was a ratty pair of loose-fitting sweatpants. But what made his heart positively race was the sleepy look she gave him, peering out from her crazy all over the place hair. He sighed and knew that he could never carry through with his plan, all the fight was gone from him with that single, though long held, glance. But he would still try, even if it broke him. She plopped down heavily on the couch and yawned.
"This whole thing is pretty stupid, huh," she said sleepily, "I mean, of course we make our own fates, that stupid prophesy doesn't change that. If we listen to it we can head out on our own to defeat Him, kinda dangerous if you ask me. But at least we'd be choosing our own fighting grounds. We'd be the one's with the advantage, and the preparation. On the other hand, if we don't pay attention to it at all, life looks pretty dang bad for everyone," she yawned again, making the whole situation all the more surreal. "So we can either ignore everything and go about our lives or we can try to defeat the Evil Dude. Either way we have Deatheaters after us."
"You forgot the option where we go back to ignoring each other so they don't actually come after us left right and center," Sirius interjected seriously, grabbing her hand to offset the upsetting remark.
"That won't work," she told him steadfastly.
"Wha…why not?" Taken aback by her assured dismissal, his eyebrows scrunched together in the cutest way.
"Well, first off they already know we're together, if the way they gate-crashed the Ball is any indication. Secondly, they'd probably kill us anyway, just to rid themselves of the problem and to make sure the prophesy doesn't come true. We're not exactly their favorite people to begin with, after all. Thirdly, if we do nothing, and if you put any stock in prophesies, terrible things will happen and for the 'more deadly future exchange.' I, for one, am not going to coward out on my friends just because I couldn't shoulder what would have been my responsibility anyways." For the first time Sirius truly glared at her.
"I wouldn't…" Sirius snarled.
Taylor looked at him apologetically, "I know you wouldn't. I was talking about myself. I…I'm afraid. I'd rather not have to fight down the forces of darkness, you know. Not alone. Which brings us to…," she had figured this all out in the bathroom while she was stalling for time, including her feelings, "I won't let you drop me like a hot potato again."
"I wouldn't have," Sirius watched the floor with more interest than it probably deserved.
"Sure you would've," Taylor informed him casually.
"I already changed my mind," he insisted, meeting her eyes.
"You did?" she looked surprised. He nodded, looking depressed. She smiled happily and scooted closer to him on the couch. They looked at each other, inching closer and closer. Abruptly, she yawned.
"Shall we head back to the dorm, then?" he suggested.
"Yeah, they're probably worried sick about us!" She looked sick at the possibility.
Well, that wasn't exactly what was happening…
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Lily yelled at James about a foot from his ear. Instead of rupturing his ear drum, he merely looked confused. They were standing in the Common Room after the Ball had been so rudely interrupted by Evil Gate Crashers.
"What?" James yelled back over the deafening music that was currently blaring from someone's wand. Probably Monique. That Vulture had a wicked memory for all sorts of music, wizard or muggle.
"The party, James," Lily screamed directly into his ear, "is it such a good idea?"
"No need to yell, Lils," James boomed loudly and hypocritically back at her, "it's not that loud!" Lily did not look convinced.
Actually it was that loud. Perhaps the many years of loud Quidditch matches and having the Captain (before he'd been bestowed that title himself) blowing the whistle in his ears had caused him to become deaf. More believable was that he was trying to convince Lily that the party was not out of control. She was not convinced.
Anyone who'd had one look at the party would have agreed with her. After all, liberal amounts of firewhiskey had been poured into the fruit punch, causing it to fade from blood red to slightly pink. Probably as a direct result no one, including Lily, was very sober. Lily's own delightfully liberated buzz was probably the reason that she hadn't already put the refilling punch bowl out of operation and shipped everyone back to their own beds. People from all houses, having ignored the orders of the headmaster to seek comfort in the blurring qualities of alcohol, were milling about in the Gryffindor Common Room.
Someone had decided that a giant game of spin-the-bottle was appropriately light hearted. Another corner had been designated "couples corner" by the looks of things. But no one wanted to look all that closely. On an entirely different note, Jeannette and Peter, who had been disgustingly handsy throughout the night, were no where to be seen. No one really wanted to think too closely about that either. Not that anyone had noticed, really. The party was swiftly reaching roof-raising status. Even James and Lily could do nothing but join in on the fun.
Which was the state of things in Gryffindor Common Room when the slightly depressed Sirius and Taylor stumbled through the portrait hole…