Apologies for the long delay in getting this up, I've been very slow and there's no excuse! But I hope you enjoy the second part anyway, and thank you so much for the reviews, they were very much appreciated as would be any feedback for this :) Happy reading and more importantly, merry christmas!
Ironically, even when he got the ghastly hair cut off, I didn't even notice. I've realised in retrospect that it was the only possible reason for me never noticing him before - and it seemed, the reason several other girls in the year hadn't noticed him either. Until then.
Sixth year was the first year when, upon arriving in the Great Hall for the start of term feast, Alice and I didn't carry out our tradition of scouting for boys, given that she was making fast progress with Frank, and they were on the very verge of becoming an official item. I myself had a quick glance around, of course, but by that point I had pretty much given up hope with our year, and as always my eyes skipped straight over Sirius and his friends. What I didn't spot was the fact that seemingly every other girl in third year and above had not skipped over them, and already the newly-coiffed Sirius Black was attracting hoards of fluttering eyelashes, re-applying of lipgloss, pouts, girlish laughs and hair-tosses.
But, despite his newly-honed good looks being the talk of the rest of the school, I remained oblivious, and never gave Sirius much thought apart from our banter in Duelling Club. It had picked up right where it had left off at the end of last year, but to an even bigger extent now, and I was genuinely starting to enjoy the time I spent with him as the first few weeks of term rolled past.
We were even beginning to talk about things a little more seriously, occasionally moving away from our witty, inane chats and discussing our lives in general; how school was going; who we liked. While I honestly had nothing to report on this front, he told me excitedly after he'd asked out Abbie Weatherby in our year and she'd accepted, and in this way, we became much closer, although we still never saw each other outside of Duelling.
What was new that year, though, was the rearranging of the halves in which the year group was split, meaning we were now finding ourselves in classes with entirely different people. I still didn't have any lessons with Sirius and co, but I was thankful that I still had Alice - She and Frank now being an official couple (and sickeningly affectionate, I tell you!), I was spending less and less time with her outside of lessons, and it was making me a little uneasy.
"Alright, Sixth years, I'm not going to say it again!" Barked McGonagall at the beginning of a Transfiguration class, around a month into the term, "You can listen, and you can listen now, or I'll have you all in to help out with my first year lessons!" If any prospect were to shut us up, that was it.
"Now I want you working with someone different today, please. I'm glad you all get on so well with your friends, but you're a lazy bunch, and I want you concentrating today. And that means new partners, so pair up! Alice, I'm not going to say it again..."
And so, after a lot of sighing on our part, the class moved to sit beside someone new. I myself was next to Rob Davison, a new addition to my Potions, Transfiguration and Defense classes, who I got on very well with - not that I had any idea what that little friendship would become, at the time. Meanwhile Alice was working with Jasmine Patil, the biggest gossip in the year, and moaning about it pretty much non-stop.
"So, today we move beyond the recapping of the Ordinary Wizarding Level work with which we have been preoccupied, onto a more advanced form of transfiguration regarding..."
Thinking over it now, it was a pretty standard lesson, on what I thought was going to be a pretty standard day - but as it turned out, it was crucial. Not in the sense that anything major physically transpired - in fact, it was one of the most average in history. But it was so absolutely integral in determining the course of my life from that point on that to me, there might as well have been some huge, life-altering event.
The only thing I still struggle to work out is whether it was similar to winning the lottery, or being unexpectedly hit by a tsunami.
Anyway, as I said, the lesson was average to the extent that I can't actually remember what we covered, but the end of it is what stands out in my mind.
"Will we be working together next time, do you think?" Asked Rob as we packed up, while I failed to notice the hopeful look in his eye.
"I'm not sure." I replied casually, attempting to force my textbook into my bag to no avail. "I think-"
"Miss Evans?" I spun around at the sound of McGonagall's voice, who was rolling up and sealing a piece of parchment as she spoke, "I was wondering if you could possibly take this down to Professor Jacobs for me."
"In Care of Magical Creatures? No problem." I smiled, walking to her desk to take the letter from her.
"I'll go with you, Lil, I've got Herbology next so I'm heading down that way anyway." Alice said from the door, and I noticed an odd, slightly bemused expression make its way onto her face as she finished her sentence. Confused, I turned to face the same direction as her, and saw Rob Davison holding out my bag with a smile on his face.
"I put that big book back in for you, to save you the trouble." He said as I took it from him with a smile of thanks, "Bye, Lily." And I didn't think on it, stupid as I was, as he left the room just ahead of us.
I didn't notice the fleeting, slightly knowing smirk on Alice's face, either, as we made our way down the vast, sloping lawns.
"Have you got Potions next?" Alice asked casually as we reached the outskirts of the forest, "You don't want to be late for that."
"No, I've got a free." I replied, realising that there was a Care Of Magical Creatures class already assembled, "But it's not like Slughorn would mind anyway, he-"
"What are you doing down here?" I was cut off by Sirius, who had detached himself from the throng of students waiting for class to start, "You've made your snobby little opinions about Care of Magical Creatures evident enough times, I'd expect you to keep well away from here." He grinned as he pulled me into a casual hello hug.
"Oh, my snobby little opinions about your so-called subject are still firmly in place, don't you worry." I teased back, "McGonagall sent us with a message, can you give that to Jacobs?"
"Yep." he said, taking the scroll, "Stupid old knacker's always late, so I-"
"What's that, Mr Black?"
"Oh, god." Sirius muttered under his breath, before turning to his angry-looking professor, "Nothing, Sir! I've got a message for you here," he shot me and Alice a pained look, with a reluctant "Catch you later," before turning his back and taking the letter over to Professor Jacobs.
"Sorry, but what in the hell was that?" Alice demanded as we made our way back up towards the castle, her expression one of shock and slight reverence.
"What was what?"
"You know Sirius Black?"
"Well, yeah, but-"
"You, like, know him? As in casual hugs, rampant flirting know him?"
"What?" I couldn't believe what I was hearing, "You thought I was flirting with Sirius?"
"Um, yeah." Alice looked at me as if I were insane, "Lily, how did you even get to be on such good terms with him? He's gorgeous!"
"Ew, you really think so?" I remember being genuinely surprised; as stupid as it sounds now I had never even considered him up until that point. "Well, I know him from Duelling, we're quite good friends. But I'm not sure about him being good looking; I guess I've never really thought about..."
But then I did think about it. And the end of my sentence trailed off, entirely forgotten as my brain began to whir. Brand new feelings were making themselves known inside of me that I hadn't seen coming in a million years, thoughts ticking over as I considered what Alice had said.
"Ahaa, but you're thinking about it now, right?" Alice asked, a smug smile on her face, "Even if you have been literally blind, you can't deny he's gotten a little bit tasty over the summer."
No, I couldn't. And this was all just a little bit too much to handle. I remember wondering what the hell I was thinking - until then, he'd just been Sirius. At first, the slightly annoying, over-arrogant occasional duelling partner, who gradually became the begrudgingly respected aquaintance, the mate, then the genuine friend... But now? What was this?
Oh, poor, confused little sixteen-year-old me... Little did I know, it would take a hell of a lot before I realised what exactly it was I felt - and still feel to this day - for Sirius Black.
And so, I gradually began to look a little differently at him, starting in our next dueling club meeting that Thursday evening. I had to admit, he did have a great smile. And great cheekbones. And the way his hair fell just that little bit in front of his eyes since he'd had it cut... But, at the same time, I couldn't see past Sirius, the kid with the long hair who I'd always dismissed and who I just couldn't imagine seeing in a romantic way.
There were a good few weeks when this confusion was constantly on the back of my mind, flitting between genuine consideration and 'never in a million years' - and all this, unhelpfully, came at the same time as things started to happen with Rob.
As he'd hoped, we had continued to work together in Transfiguration, and I had to admit the lessons were more enjoyable because of it - there was nothing that particularly stood out about him, but he was funny, and nice enough. Given that Alice and Frank were now pretty much joined at the hip, I found myself looking for other company in the evenings, and sometimes that just happened to be him.
The first time we sat together in front of the fire in the common room, we just chatted about the essay we'd been set and other light topics, but as time went on we'd started to become more friendly, talking about more personal things; our family, our backgrounds. And then, that one evening, we broached a different topic for the first time.
"You know what, I officially give up on this homework." Rob declared, throwing aside his textbook.
"Yeah, because you've been putting so much effort in!" I smiled, "That book's lain open on your lap for the past two hours without you looking at it once."
"Ah well, McGonagall can deal with it." He put his work back into his bag and I did likewise, myself having done none of it either. "What were we talking about?"
"You were telling me about going out with Jackie Taylor in fourth year." I said with a smirk, relaxing further back into the sofa now that I'd officially given up on studying.
"Oh yeah." He grinned, "Well, it was at the start of the year, when the girls all got pretty and the boys all realised they had hormones. When all the big name couples of year four were forming."
"I get you. Remember Nick Stevenson and Lucy Abbott?"
"Yeah, around their time. And then my friends got in on the act; Dan asked out Ellie Watson, Ted was with Rachel West, and so I panicked."
"The joys of peer pressure," I laughed, "And so you thought it would be a good idea to ask out Jackie, of all people?"
"Don't judge me, ok. She was basically the first girl I ran into, after convincing myself that I needed to get me a girlfriend."
"Such a romantic," I teased, shaking my head slightly, "How long did that last, then?"
"Let me think," He put on a serious expression, "If I remember the dates, add up the time..." Rob muttered under his breath, seeming to count something on his fingers, before looking up, "All in all, a little less than a week."
I couldn't help but splutter a laugh, and he joined in, "Shameful, isn't it. Anyway, it was probably a good thing, she's turned into a right... Well..." We both glanced furtively over to the corner where she was perched on one boy's lap while fluttering her eyelashes at three others, "You get my point. What about you, then?"
"Me?" I was a little taken aback, "Well, I um..." Truth be told, I had even less experience with boys than he did with girls, unless you counted Severus Snape. Thank god, there had never been a single romantic element involved in that, and I most certainly wasn't going to bring it up. I was still struggling for something to say, casting my mind back over previous years, when inspiration struck.
"Well, James Potter asked me out near the end of last year."
Rob's eyes widened, "Really? And you turned him down? Aren't most girls pretty much falling at Potter's feet?"
"Yeah." I considered, remembering the attention he had started to gain this year to the same extent as Sirius, "But to be honest, I think he's a bit of a bullying twerp."
Rob's expression seemed to relax at that, but I didn't pick up on it at the time, "I agree. Him and his whole little crew are a bit up their own arses, I think."
"Oh no," I had to contradict him, "Remus Lupin's lovely, he wouldn't hurt a fly. And Sirius... Well..." My stomach shifted a little - I hadn't really meant to bring him up.
"You're telling me you don't think Black's really arrogant?" He raised his eyebrow.
"Well, I..." I sighed. Could I tell him? Rob seemed like a genuine person, and had become a real friend. Plus, I'd already told him a lot about myself, and he had done the same... Oh, I thought, what the hell. Maybe it would be good to get a male perspective on the situation.
"I'm actually a little confused about Sirius at the minute." And thus, I (hugely untactfully) launched into the whole story, about how we'd got to be sort-of friends, our argument, our making up, our becoming even better friends, what Alice had said, the attention he was getting - and I had to admit, it felt great to get it all off my chest.
"...And so now I really don't understand how I feel, because on one hand he's this really good-looking guy who's a great friend and really sweet to me, but on the other I sometimes just see him as the annoying, cocky kid from dueling. Plus, there's the fact that even if I did make up my mind, he's still going out with Abbie Weatherby, and... Oh, I don't know."
I exhaled heavily, leaning backwards into the cushions with a hand over my eyes. I think, up until that point, I hadn't stopped to realise how much this was actually getting to me. All I can say now is, it wasn't going to get any easier.
Anyway, I was so caught up in my own little world of teenage self-pity that I completely failed to notice Rob's face gradually falling further and further as I'd talked about Sirius.
"Well, I, erm..." He cleared his throat, clearly trying too hard to act normal, "It seems like you've got a lot on your plate, then. I hope you, er.. Hope you can..." he sighed, "I really hope you're okay, Lily. I of all people really don't want to see you get hurt. Sleep well." And, with a genuine, if slightly pained smile, he headed for his dormitory.
But still, I didn't notice the glaringly obvious, barely thought of it twice. I was far too wrapped up in my own self-indulgent thoughts and focusing on Sirius, laughing away in the corner with James, Remus and of course, Abbie.
Oh, stupid teenage me. Poor, naïve little Lily. If only you'd known how much worse it was going to get.