Chapter 27

Fleamont Potter strolled toward the barrier between platforms nine and ten, pushing James' trolley and apparently very interested in the InterCity 125 that had just arrived at platform nine. With a meaningful look at the kids, he leaned casually against the barrier. Ines imitated him. In a moment, they had fallen sideways through the solid metal onto platform nine and three-quarters and looked up to see the Hogwarts Express, a scarlet steam engine, puffing smoke over a platform packed with witches and wizards seeing their children onto the train. Ines was thrilled to be going back, as much as she enjoyed the Potters and their wonderful home, nothing was like home to her as Hogwarts was.

Pushing her way through the crowd she stowed her trunk along with the rest and made her way back to the Potters to bid them goodbye. Euphemia enveloped her in a big hug "Do take care, won't you, Ines?" She said as she straightened up, her eyes oddly bright. "The boys too, don't all three of you get in too much trouble.". She laughed off her joke, getting in trouble was practically unavoidable for the three of them, and bid goodbye to Fleamont. Walking towards the train beside Sirius she turned to tell him how excited she was when he grabbed her hand. Not out of endearment, or caring, but fear.

Victor Avery was striding over towards them, a cruel look upon his face. Ines curled into Sirius, while also mentally preparing for the imminent blow she was about to receive. "Ines," he murmured quite curtly, before looking around to check that nobody was watching their interaction. "I've commanded that Pippy no longer takes requests from you, so don't bother trying to summon her,".

Ines didn't speak, only nodded, and strode off. Her eyes filling with tears, she could hardly see, and Sirius led her on the steps. James and Sirius led the way to the end of the train, past packed compartments, to a carriage that looked quite empty. They loaded the trunks onto it, stowed their owls and bags in the luggage rack.

They were soon joined by Remus and Peter. They all greeted each other happily but the moment was cut short. Lily appeared in the door, gave a quick hug to Ines and a hesitant smile to the boys before grabbing Remus' hand. "We've got to go, I want to get to the prefect meeting early so we can get a spot at the front". He obliged, and compartment now only held Ines and the three boys.

Before long, Ines stood to leave "I'll be right back, I haven't seen the rest of the girls yet." Making her way through the halls she received many looks, generally from boys. A Hufflepuff boy she didn't recognize was talking with a Slytherin girl that Ines had seen Oberon with on a few occasions. He bid her hello and smiled brightly, Ines repaid his look and kept walked. She walked until she heard the unmistakable cry of Dorcas Meadowes, she was yelling something about her grade on the Divination exam results. She had always loved the class, the mystery intrigued her, but her grade of an 'Acceptable' was far from intriguing. Ines slipped into the door, yelling to be heard over the noise. "That's why I quit Divination! That, and the idiocy of it". Dorcas turned to refute her point, already very angry, but her gaze softened at the sight of Ines. She wrapped her in a great hug and they were soon joined by the rest of the girls.

"I can't stay long, I've told the boys I'd be right back but I wanted to say hello,". The girls unwrapped themselves from the hug and gave each other small looks. Marlene was the first to speak, quite tan from her vacation to the coast "How was it? living with the boys?". Ines bowed her head, she had recently felt increasingly guilty about how she was all summer. "Fine, terribly awkward, but fine. Better than it would've been if I had gone home that's for sure.". They took a moment to look down solemnly, giving a brief moment of silence. Ines slipped out, leaving Dorcas to continue her rant about her exam results. Walking back through the halls she could see her favorite moment of the trip peeking through the windows of the passing compartment windows, rushing back to her own to not miss the whole thing she was surprised by what she found when she reached it. James and Sirius were stood in front of the window looking out at the view, her view. The sound of her opening the door startled them, but they turned back to the window when Ines walked over and joined them. Staring out at the passing tree's Ines can't help but think of the boys on either side of them. Once the train made it off the bridge she stepped back and sat on a seat, and the boys soon found their way to the one across from her. She couldn't look at them as she spoke and opted to stare at her shoes instead.

"I forgive you both, and Remus, and Peter. I don't agree with what you did entirely, mostly it being on the grounds of boredom. But, I know you two are truly good souls and that that moment was not a reflection of who you two truly are. You are my greatest friends and … I'll love you both forever. I'm sorry if how I've been this summer reflected differently, but, I forgive you.". After a moment a silent Ines looked up and her and Sirius' eyes meet and hold, and the world starts to fall away, time does, years rolling up like rugs, until everything that's happened un-happens, and for a moment, it's them again, more one than two. Still looking at Sirius, James stands and envelops her in a bone-crushing hug, whispering how sorry he is and how much he loves her. When he finally lets go Ines stands to give Sirius the hug he had stood to give. His breath was warm on her neck as he bent his head, resting his cheek against her hair. Her heart beat so quickly, and yet she felt utterly calm as if she could have stayed there forever and not minded, stayed there forever and let the world fall apart around them. She pictured his fingers, pushing against that line, reaching for her despite the barrier between them.

Ines wanted to tell him so much more, she screamed it in her head, hoping he could hear it through some strange connection. 'I missed you and I lied to myself when I said I didn't. From the moment I started guarding myself, I missed you so much I went out of my mind. I kept thinking about how you might never know that I missed you with what felt like an ocean between us.'.

Once Remus and Peter returned Ines explained her forgiveness which they took with open arms. The rest of the train ride was as if the summer had never happened, playing exploding snap and relaxing together. At some point in the ride, Ines found herself leaning against Sirius, her head tucked into a space on his chest. She smiled at last. And damn if it didn't kill him, the quiet joy in her face. They had walked out of darkness and pain and despair together. They were still walking out of it. So that smile, it struck him stupid every time he saw it and realized it was for him and only him.