Chapter 40

Ines, Marlene, Lily, Dorcas, and Mary all made their way down to the end-of-year feast that night. They had been held up by Marlene's fussing about, insisting on giving her trunk one last check to make sure she remembered everything, so the Great Hall was already full. It was decked out in the Ravenclaw colors of blue and silver to celebrate Ravenclaw's winning the House Cup. A huge banner showing the Ravenclaw raven covered the wall behind the High Table. Once inside, Ines slipped into a seat between James and Peter at the Gryffindor table that they had saved for her, the girls sitting on either side of the boys. Including Lily, on James' other side to his delight. Ines looked up to find Sirius' eyes on her, her heart swelling at the mere sight of him.

It had been almost two weeks since the moment they shared on the astronomy tower, and for some strange reason, nothing had changed. The only difference being the fact that they loved each other, something that they had never hidden physically, was now in words. They hadn't told anybody, it was something they nonverbally decided to keep between them. Staring into his eyes was difficult, especially in the presence of her friends. She had no idea if her friends had any idea about the state of her relationship, they definitely noticed her positivity as of late. She tore her eyes away from his, as hard as it was, in fear of not being able to contain herself if she looked for a second longer.

Fortunately, Dumbledore arrived moments later. The babble died away. "Another year has gone!" Dumbledore said cheerfully. "And I must trouble you with an old man's wheezing waffle before we sink our teeth into our delicious feast. What a year it has been! Hopefully, your heads are all a little fuller than they were, you have the whole summer ahead to get them nice and empty before next year starts. I leave you now with these words; Don't be afraid of being scared. To be afraid is a sign of common sense. Only complete idiots are not afraid of anything. Being brave is not as easy as it looks, but when you are brave only good things prevail. I will not dance around it, the world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it. Be brave, and know that it is ok to be scared, but don't run from it.". He nodded, stepping away from his podium to the cheers of the great hall.

Dumbledore's words resonated with Ines, and much of Hogwarts as they rode the train home. Ines gave a quick smile to Sirius before they parted ways on the train, Emmeline would be leaving for Australia, following her mother yet again for another summer with dragons, so the girls wanted to spend as much time with her as possible. Owen Caudwell stopped by midway through, wishing to speak to Mary. Upon her return, she was left with swollen lips and a red face, as well as no desire to speak about the proceedings of her return. In reaching the station, they all filed out and began bidding their goodbyes. Although no concrete plans had been set, Ines and Lily knew they were likely to see each other in the next few weeks. Not only due to their tight relationship but the one that had been she had formed with James as of late. They had begun to turn from unlikely friends to pleasant acquaintances, something that made Ines overjoyed.

Walking through the platform, Ines once again passed her family. She felt their eyes on her, the disgusted look from her father was enough to send anyone on edge. It didn't soften at all by the arrival of her brother, her mother simply pulled him in for a quick embrace and they were on their way. Out of the bustle of the platform, Euphemia became visible, her arms already outstretched at the sight of the three of them. Sirius barreled into her first, causing her to almost topple over, before letting up so she could hug James and Ines. She placed a kiss on Ines' forehead, "How are you darling?". Ines pulled back slightly to look up at her, "Fine, glad to be over with the year.". She nodded and began herding the kids towards the exit.

Once outside Kings Cross Euphemia grabs onto them and apparates to the Potters home, inside they were greeted by Fleamont and all sat on the back patio and recounted various - abridged and censored - stories of what they did in the past year. After an hour, plenty of laughs, and cups of tea the Potters house-elf rounded the corner notifying them of a friend that arrived. The Potters bid goodbye to Ines and Sirius, saying they would continue their conversations in a bit.

Ines and Sirius sat in their chairs, watching the three of them walk into the house and listened to their footsteps grow softer. Then, in a flash, they were out of their seats, across the lawn and into the woods, running for no reason and laughing for no reason and totally out of breath and out of their minds when Sirius caught her by her shirt, whipped her around, and with one strong hand flat against her chest, pushed her against a tree and kisses her so hard she feels like she's going blind. He pushed into her further, his hands now gripping the sides of her waist.

He stepped back when Ines no longer reciprocated and was set into a fit of giggles. He looked down at her, a smile now creeping upon his own face. "What," he muttered "something funny.". Ines calmed herself down, "no, nothing funny, I'm just happy that I'm not scared of that anymore.". He leaned in once again but she pushed him away, "But I did want to talk to you. I love you, I really do, and while I have no problem telling you that I'm not sure I'm ready to let other people know that." Sirius removed his hands from her waist and put them in her hands. "It won't upset anyone, sure James may be a right git for a while considering he'll think I'm tainting you but he'll get over it.". Ines laughed slightly at the prospect but continued her point. "I'm not worried about James. It's just that I'd like to keep this our own thing for a while.".

Sirius nodded slightly, still thinking before it hit him. "Oberon.". Ines tensed up only slightly at the mention of his name before she crumpled up a bit into herself, tears already falling down her face. He gripped her tight, holding her close to him. She could hardly get words out, they drowned in the tears that were spilling down her face. "I'm sorry… I can't. He probably already suspects but, I can't have him know. Not when I can have you and he can't have Regulus.". Sirius had always suspected something between the two of them, but this confirmed it. He didn't often feel anything towards his younger brother, but this he could sympathize with. Not on a level that Ines would, he didn't think he ever would. He let her cry until her breathing slowed and she stopped shaking. Holding her tight enough that she knew that he wouldn't let Oberon know; anything to keep the love of his life happy.