So it was one of those stupid teenage guy things, but Sirius was quite determined that he would win that bet with James. He didn't really care about the Captainship of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team (the title wasn't James's to give anyway), and although the broom would be a nice perk he was rather attached to his own - which was, after all, only two years old and hardly outdated. But he just couldn't let James off, not after that comment that he couldn't keep a girl if he tried. Not after he had started the not-quite-fight, anyway. Though how was he supposed to know that James would get that pissed off? He'd only been funning the guy about Evans. As usual. And who wouldn't? James had set his cap for the Evans girl back in third year, and had continuously rebuffed all admirers since then - he remained stalwartly unattached, even now, three years later. Meanwhile, Evans had just as determinedly turned him down... even after she'd had a falling-out with her lapdog Snape, and was now pretty much alone and had been for a long time.

Sirius had taken quite an opposite approach to James. He'd had strings of girlfriends, none of whom lasted much more than a week - third dates were a very rare thing: he usually spent one date getting them to agree to a committed relationship, and the next date breaking it off. Nobody turned him down, and he was highly sought-after despite (or perhaps because of) his reputation. Or his charm. Or his brilliance, on the pitch or in class. Or his damn fine looks. Or his modesty. Every female wanted him, and every male wanted to be him. He was, after all, The Great Sirius Black.

So when James had told him that his free and easy love-'em-leave-'em attitude with the female species was a way to mask his inability to keep a sustained interest (i.e. "fear of commitment"), Sirius had told him to shove it up his - and James had bet that Sirius would not only be unable to make a relationship last a year, he'd not even be able to win a certain someone over. He was so sure of it, he said, that he'd bet his Quidditch Captain badge and his new racing broom as well - and Sirius need not even put up anything as a counterweight, except his pride. Incensed, Sirius had agreed to any damn terms James coud possibly come up with. That was when James had picked out Minstrel Lehman as his target.

They were all familiar with Minstrel Lehman. A year below them, she was a special friend of Evans and Snape, who had retained the friendship of both even after the two had split. She had also been something like the girlfriend of Sirius's prat of a younger brother, Regulus - that is, until Regulus ran off from school and joined the Death Eaters. Officially, she was the daughter of a Swiss wandmaker and his British wife, but rumor had it that she was actually the missing child of the pureblood Evermoor clan, and the cousin of Snape. Sirius didn't put much store in the rumor - he'd seen her with her father once or twice, at Diagon Alley - but apparently the Slytherins (and his parents) did, because they all liked her, for someone who wasn't in their House; in any case she was the only person, outside of Evans, whom Snape appeared to like, and who remained friends with him. They had to be related somehow, because otherwise her patience with him would be patently strange. Lehman was stiff and holier-than-thou and always correct and polite even when making insults. She was also involved in practically every academic undertaking and did well in all of them - in other words, she was a typical Ravenclaw brown-nose. She was also one of the few Ravenclaws who played a halfway decent game of Quidditch, although of course none of them (with the exception of Tamara Fence) could ever be as brilliant as the Gryffindors. Translation: she was an over-achieving little girl who was quickly outpacing her mentor Lily Evans in the "annoying teacher's pet" department. As always, he wondered briefly what it was about Severus Snape that seemed to attract such undesirable creatures; then again, like begets like.

At least Evans was a looker, Sirius thought, displeased. She had only a pleasant face, in his opinion (when it wasn't screwed up in irritation), but she was fairly tall, and had expressive eyes - the vivid green of them against her equally vivid red-gold hair made a striking picture. Not that Sirius had limited himself to the obviously attractive girls in his exploits; he knew quite well that there were those who weren't so very obvious, but had a great deal of charm, or fine bone structure, or interesting features, that were only not set off correctly because of one thing or another - such as, for example, the fact that they had more outgoing friends or were never noticed by guys as handsome as Sirius before. But Minstrel Lehman was short (tiny would be a better word), shapeless, wore thick glasses, and kept her dark hair in a serpent of a braid that was better fit for a child or an old woman than a fifteen-year-old. She also acted a lot like Professor McGonagall, especially after she'd been made Prefect. Sirius had not observed anything about her that might hint at something potentially more interesting. Well, Remus said she was actually quite nice - they'd been friends for a couple of years, ever since that exchange-student program, and had taken to sometimes hanging out at the Prefects' Table during meals and school assemblies - but Sirius had never understood what was nice about a girl who would tell on you for every little piddling move or give you a tongue-lashing even when you weren't doing anything wrong. Besides, "nice" in no way meant "pretty". And Sirius wasn't into dating non-pretty girls.

Still, he would date this one. What was more, he'd so charm her that she'd be wrapped around his little finger, and she'd stick around for a year. Because he was going to make that damned James eat his bet.