Chapter 35

Leaving the castle for winter holiday that evening, Ines noticed Oberon was not among the crowd of students making their way down to the train. Then, looking later on the platform she didn't see either of her parents or Pippy. She didn't bring it up to the boys until they returned back to James' house. They had had a wonderful dinner, courtesy of James' house-elf, and retired to James' room. Despite having been in it many times before, the state of James' room always made Ines laugh. It was exactly as would be expected from a boy like James. Quidditch posters and Gryffindor themed items covered every square inch of the room. Ines, for example, found herself lying on a velvet red loveseat situated at the end of James' bed, which James was lying on, while Sirius was sat on another velvet seat adjacent to Ines' in gold.

"Did any of you see Oberon anywhere? I didn't see him at the station or on the train?". The boys looked up at each other, both confirming that neither of them had seen Oberon before Sirius turned to her and shook his head. "Why?" he asked "Looking forward to exchanging gifts?". She shot him a look while understanding that he was only joking. "It's just strange is all, for him to not go home for a break. The fact that my parents allowed it, it's even stranger.". There was a moment of silence in which they all considered what it was Oberon was still doing at the castle when none of the outcomes they thought of were in any way positive, they dropped the topic. Sirius took advantage of the fact that James was lying on the bed looking up at the ceiling to reach over to Ines and pull her from her seat to his. Her legs were up on top of him while he stroked her hand with his thumb lovingly. She was glad that he understood the mixed feeling she had when it came to Oberon. She hated him desperately, but they would always be twins and will always share a bond. It wasn't easy to admit, or to say out loud, how hard it was for her to stop caring about him.

James sat up suddenly, narrowly missing the two of them pulling their hands apart, and being oblivious to the tension in the room announced that he was going to the loo to brush his teeth before bed. Ines and Sirius stayed in the same position for only a moment's longer before Ines moved her body away from his and stood up, "I should probably do the same." She whispered. He stood up as well, moving towards the door and opening it for her. They walked out into the hall, Ines moving towards her door adjacent from James and Sirius down the left side. Before she slipped inside her room, she turned back to him and smiled to which he reciprocated.

A year ago today, they weren't sharing this same. A year ago they had both been in their respective homes, doing last-minute preparations to their outfits for the Malfoy wedding. Ines had been sitting in her newly decorated room, brushing her hair at her vanity, while her silver and lilac hued gown was hung up on her closet door behind her. She was not yet wearing the necklace she currently wore, the one given to her last Christmas, and she had not yet kissed Sirius. She had not yet been told of her arranged marriage to Regulus and her brother still dreamt of the possibility of the two of them one day being together. She still had not come to terms with her feelings, the ones that scared her still to this day. The feelings that would bring her to tears, and rip her from her family permanently. The feelings that would forever bring her thoughts back to that terrible day. The day she was dragged from the Malfoy Manor by her arm with her dress torn and makeup running. The day she was punished for her feelings, ones that consumed her every day since then.

She found herself doing something similar in her new room now which she had taken to decorating slightly over the summer. Instead of sitting at a vanity she was seated at her desk, in a nightgown she had bought in Diagon Alley, but still sat thinking about the Malfoy wedding. She had gotten ready for bed, wishes James goodnight, but couldn't will herself to go to sleep.

The previously silent house was disturbed by the opening of her door and the sound the steps made when she walked down them. She found herself sitting at the kitchen table, the only room that didn't contain any mirrors, trying to calm herself down. It was a few hours before she heard someone else come down the stairs, she didn't have to look up to see who it was.

Sirius could hardly look at her. The poor girl had been shaking all day. Had looked like she'd vomit right at the table. He had tried his best to avoid thinking about the wedding these past few hours as she had been. When she finally looked up at him, his heart broke at the state of her. She had been crying, shaking, and grieving for hours now. Grieving for the life that she lost, however bad it may have been. The life she found comfort in solely due to the fact that she had spent 16 years living in it.

Sirius only asked, "Can I walk you back to your room?" Ines opened her mouth as if she'd say no, and he was willing to let it drop, but she inclined her head.

They walked in silence the entire way up the stairs until they found themselves in the hall outside her room. The door was cracked open, golden light spilling onto the floor. Sirius had stopped his steps a few feet from her door and let her walk in. But she couldn't walk in, walk into a room in which she would spend another night alone. She turned back to him and walked back towards him. She kept going towards, she watched him as he refused to look down at the pink, delicate, very short lace nightgown to the best of his ability.

"I'm sorry," she whispered, "I wish this holiday wasn't ruined.". In a few days, it would be Christmas, the house was decorated to the brim with lights and garlands. Ines could hardly stand to look at it all. Despite her Christmas with the Potters being the best one she had ever had, it didn't feel right. She hated the feeling, a feeling that contradicted with the obvious good in the situation. "Maybe it isn't all ruined," Sirius whispered, before flicking his wand to the ceiling above them. Slowly, a sprig of mistletoe took shape between them.

Ines tipped her head back, and he found her lips. It was, she thought, supposed to be a fast and sweet little kiss, but somehow it slowed down, got warmer and deeper. His lips were damp and soft as silk, and that was such a contrast to the hard lines of his body pressed against her. The strength of his hands sliding around her waist and pulling her even closer. Her fingertips dug into his shoulders as she pressed closer. Then her lips parted to his, and there was no mistaking the passion in her response. Wild and sweet. His eyes were closed, but in his mind's eye he saw the lights of the giant tree from downstairs, and he knew he'd found a Christmas memory worth keeping.

She unwrapped herself from him, whispered goodnight, and walked into her room. Her small smile visible only in the moments she turned to close the door behind her. Minutes later, Sirius was still staring up at the ceiling, teeth gritted as he calmed the roaring in his veins that were steadily shredding through his self-control. That damned nightgown. That damned girl.