The Sugar Quill
Author: Katinka (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: A Kind and Caring Friend  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

A Kind and Caring Friend

by Katinka

**

Long weeks and months had passed since Abigail Loomis had last seen Sirius Black, but somehow it seemed like only days since he’d last sat at her kitchen table, making a mess of whatever was before him. While his hair and robes were ragged, she noticed, he did seem to have cleaned himself up before turning up on this cold autumn evening, and though he was still too thin, he seemed more at peace with himself and the world. Sirius was probably happier when he could actively fight against Voldemort and his increasingly violent followers, if that was what he was doing. It must have been maddening during that last school year to helplessly bide his time in Hogwarts, knowing all the while that something awful might befall his godson.

Curious, too, that she would see him today. Perhaps Padfoot had some animal-like way of sensing when she was in an ill temper.

Bad weather, bad moods, and bad wizards, as usual. Of course he would drop in!

Abby felt fortunate that she had caught him. Today had been a Hogsmeade weekend, the sort of day that usually kept her in the shop for several hours after the usual closing time.

But thanks to Jasper Zonko and his plots to steal everyone else’s customers, it was slower than usual. Good thing I didn’t stay in my office and puzzle over this troublesome business with Hermione Granger as I’d planned.

Abby dared a stealthy glance at Sirius as she puttered around the kitchen, preparing a plate of biscuits and some cocoa. She found, to her increasing frustration, that he was already looking at her, just as he’d been during the last five times that she’d peeked at him. A fat lot of good stealth was. She shook her head slightly as she filled two mugs with the rich, steaming liquid. This was only Sirius. The Sirius who had ate her food, slept on her sofa, and made a mess of her house, the Sirius who –

Who held me so tightly on the night he left.

She shook her head again, trying to rid it of that persistent memory. There was no reason at all to be so flustered. Concentrating on carrying the tea tray without emptying its contents onto the floor, Abby brought the food to the table and set it down with a smile. She shuffled through her mind for just the right thing to say – some sort of witty, casual comment that wouldn’t make more of this encounter than Sirius meant for it to be. He was only stopping by – for food perhaps, or for a change of clothes. He’d already told her he was leaving again.

“I’ve missed you,” Abby blurted out, blushing immediately. Well, a fat lot of good casualness was, too.

Sirius looked up from the plate of biscuits, which he’d already set into. “You have?” His voice sounded boyish and hopeful, which took her by surprise. She felt her discomfort lessen. This was the same Sirius she’d known before. There was no reason for the odd quiver in her stomach or the slight tremble of her hands. They’d parted as friends, two friends comforting one another after a tragic, fateful event had altered the wizarding world forever.

“Terribly,” she replied with a smirk, feeling the awkwardness dissipate. “It was such a bother to retrieve my slippers by myself. Besides, there was no one to properly appreciate my cooking, no one to – ”

“ –to throw things at?” he finished for her, laughing. A few crumbs spilled out of the corner of his mouth.

Abby wrinkled her nose, giggled, and took a biscuit for herself. “You’re right, I’m afraid that’s an honor I reserve only for you. I’d try throwing things at the neighbours, but they’d only throw larger things back. There’s no way I could defend myself.”

Chuckling, Sirius picked up his mug and blew across the surface before taking a small sip. Abby watched him with curious eyes. Given a few more months, he might actually begin to eat like a civilized wizard. Seeing him sitting there across the table caused an unexpected feeling of contentment to wash over her. The feeling lasted only a moment, though, as a stern reprimand from her intellect followed in its wake.

Don’t blow this out of proportion – it’s just a social call to a friend who once did him a few favours.

“So, you’ll be leaving again,” she stated into her cocoa. “You were almost out the garden gate when I came home, weren’t you? We could have missed each other entirely.”

Sirius placed down his mug and stared at her. “I was going to leave a note. A proper note, with words – not a slap of mud on your door.”

Abby gave an abrupt laugh. “A note? My goodness, a show of manners? Is this Remus Lupin’s doing?” she teased.

“Perhaps,” Sirius said with a cheeky grin, popping an entire ginger biscuit into his mouth.

“Does Remus know about your cloak?” The question came out more quickly than Abby would have liked. She waited a few seconds while Sirius finished chewing.

“He’s seen it, of course, but he doesn’t know where I got it. You can trust me, Abby – I haven’t told a soul. I won’t tell a soul. Why do you ask? Are you worried about something?”

“No reason, really,” she replied, forcing her voice to sound light. “I just don’t want people to start queuing up at the door for the next one.”

If Sirius didn’t say anything, then how did that girl know?

“Is something troubling you?”

Abby looked up quickly. She didn’t realize Sirius had still been watching her. She put a hand self-consciously to her hair. The brisk wind had unloosened most of it on the walk home – what remained of her coiffure must be quite a sight. Besides, the remaining hairpins were only contributing to the dull pounding that had beleaguered her head since that afternoon. She pulled the pins out and smoothed down her hair as best she could, while deliberating on her answer.

“People worry about you, you know,” she finally said.

“They do?”

“They do. And there are some things they like to be told in person, despite how nice a gesture like a note might like be.”

Such as why you even bothered to come by at all, if it’s still going to be months or longer before I see you again.

A silence followed, in which Abby began to wish she could retract her words. The hope of him returning had set up camp in her heart for some time now – she shouldn’t be chastising him when he actually came, even if was only to be for a few minutes.

“You’re right, Abby. You’re absolutely right,” Sirius said at length, his voice usually low. Feeling wretched, Abby tentatively leaned over and gave his forearm a quick squeeze. She sighed inside. It had been so easy, so natural to fling her arms around Padfoot and show him how glad she was to see him. If only she could do that now. If only she could – could stop her heart from pounding out of her chest. Sirius had just caught her hand as she’d begun to pull it away.

“Something’s still troubling you,” he said, his eyes intense and searching.

“Why do you say that? I’m fine – it’s just a slight pressure here.” Oh, she’d certainly missed those eyes. She pressed the heel of her free hand against her temple. “Hogsmeade weekends do that to a person.”

“Have you cast that Pain Relief Spell? ‘Ibuprofus’, was it?”

Abby nodded, grimacing. “It didn’t work. I think I’ve built up a tolerance.”

“It’s more than that, though,” he went on earnestly. “You always have the same look about you when you’re upset.”

“Oh, don’t be silly,” Abby laughed. “I do not.”

“You do.” Sirius let go of his mug and reached across the table. She caught her breath as she saw his other hand move toward her. “You get a little crease here,” – he ran two fingers down a furrow in her forehead – “and you tense these muscles here,” he finished, passing his thumb along her outer jaw. He had yet to take his eyes off her face. Abby felt her mouth drop a centimeter, and a part of her wondered if he might do that again, were she to feign another headache. His fingers were rough and weathered, but the touch had been as gentle as a feather over her skin.

Feeling a sudden rush of heat flood into her cheeks, Abby quickly stood up from the table, pulling her eyes and hand away from his. “So perceptive! Sirius, I hardly feel I know you anymore,” she said with forced gaiety, gathering up her dishes from the table. If she could make it to the sink, she could keep her back to him.

“Considering you spent much of our time together upset at me, it’s not too difficult to notice,” he replied, finishing his cocoa. “And besides that, you have a documented tendency to be evasive.”

Well, that’s rich. It’s not as if he’s never held back a thing or two.

From over her shoulder, Abby heard the sounds of Sirius leaving the table and crossing to the sofa. She busied herself with rinsing out her mug again and again and again.

“Come and sit down,” he called out. Abby stayed at the sink, pretending that she hadn’t heard him over the clatter of dishes. His voice grew deeper, more urgent. The tone sent a quick chill through her. “Please.”

Abby turned around, clumsily wiping her wet hands off on the front of her robes. “Manners again,” she said faintly, fumbling for her voice. “I’m impressed.”

When she got to the sofa, she found Sirius slumped into a deep corner, with his arms wrapped around a large cushion. She wavered there for a moment, wondering exactly what it was he wanted her to do.

Sirius looked up. “For the love of all that’s magical, woman, sit down!” he laughed, slightly exasperated.

Abby lobbed a playful kick to his shin. “You’d best watch your tongue, or I’ll find Remus and tell him of Padfoot’s fondness for bubble baths.” She took her seat next to him, several safe inches away.

“Now, lie down.” Sirius patted the cushion with one hand.

Abby’s eyes widened. He wanted her to do what? But the command was too appealing to let pass. She hesitantly leaned over and lowered her body and head onto the cushion. She could feel the edge of her right shoulder against Sirius’ chest, the outside of his leg against her waist. It was all quite comfortable, and quite overwhelming. Afraid to move, she stared straight ahead into the fire.

“Wha – ”

“Shhh.” Sirius interrupted before she could ask a question. She felt the weight of his arm rest on her shoulder, and then, before she could even comprehend what was happening, his fingers were in her hair, gently raking it off her face. Abby had to make a most concerted effort not to make a sound. It was the most amazing feeling, as though she was being both simultaneously lulled asleep and jolted wide-awake.

“Now let me understand how this works, Abby,” he asked quietly. “My safety and well-being can be your concern, but yours can’t be mine?”

Against her will, Abby giggled. It was rather illogical. “Yes, that’s exactly how it works,” she said loftily, before laughing again. “I’m so sorry. I’m still unaccustomed to talking about these things.”

“It has something to do with the Malfoys, doesn’t it?”

Abby nodded, her face rubbing across the soft velvet of the cushion. “I’m to go to their manor tomorrow.”

“Have you been there before?”

“About four times by now, I think. Narcissa’s rather come to rely on me, although I’m beginning to think it’s a compliment I could easily do without.”

Sirius was quiet for a moment. Abby let her head sink further into the cushion, her mind a flurry of confusion and sensation.

He’s only being a friend. A kind and caring friend. He’s only – oh, dear Merlin, that feels incredible.

“And their dear son stopped by the shop this morning,” she finally went on, trying to keep a semblance of rational thought about her – something that was proving increasingly difficult.

“Did he do anything to bother you?” Sirius’ fingers ran down her temple, leaving shivers in their wake. Abby took a deep breath.

“Beyond actually being himself…yes, he did. He made…insinuations…about my dealings with his family, especially with his father. He became very insulting, and, well…I discovered I can cast a decent Confundus Charm on rather short notice. It was quite a surprise, I assure you.”

Sirius was quiet again, although his fingers continued to twist through her hair.

“Abby, I realize this may sound ridiculous, considering the life I lead, but please be careful,” he said at length.

“I will,” she murmured, happy to pretend the Malfoys didn’t exist at that moment.

But it’s not just them I have to worry about…

**

The day had begun quite normally for a Hogsmeade weekend. The students usually didn’t begin to trickle down to the village until around ten, after they’d had a lie-in and a late breakfast. However, as the gilded hands of the Gladrags clock had turned toward eleven o’clock, the showroom had remained relatively empty. After a few quick conversations with neighboring shop owners, Abby had discovered the reason why. Jasper Zonko had chosen that day to host an autograph signing for Stanley Peterparke, creator of the “Martin Miggs” comic series, and apparently all of Hogwarts above age thirteen was there. To compound matters, Zonko had planned for new sales and merchandise to be unveiled every hour, thus ensuring his clientele would stay nearby.

She’d watched in dismay as the clock inched past eleven, the small hand moving towards “You’re not making a profit today, dearie”. She’d even scheduled an extra number of shop assistants, anticipating a busy day. Oh, she’d show him, Abby thought as she emptied boxes of new merchandise. A personal appearance by Meaghan McCormick, clad in the latest Gladrags fashions, might be enough to dent his Galleon flow on the next Hogsmeade weekend. And perhaps Celestina Warbeck might show up the time after that.

The sight of Ginny Weasley and Hermione Granger walking through the shop’s front door proved to be a pleasant relief from her scheming. She waved merrily at the girls. They’d turned up together on an earlier Hogsmeade visit when, as Hermione had explained with rolled eyes, Ron and Harry couldn’t be pulled away from Honeydukes long enough to help her choose a new pair of gloves. Abby had welcomed the opportunity to make their better acquaintance – there was always the chance that one or both of the girls might know the whereabouts of Harry’s godfather.

“Hello, ladies!” she called out. “Sweet Circe, I’m glad you came by. I was about to go out of my mind with boredom.”

The girls smiled in return, their cheeks rosy from the outside chill.

“You don’t mind missing all the fuss at Zonko’s?” Abby asked as she approached them. “I understand Mr. Peterparke is autographing special editions – ‘Martin Miggs and the Martian Masquerade’, or something to that effect.”

Ginny gave an impish grin. “Nah, I’ll just nick Ron’s later.”

Hermione shrugged her shoulders. “I grew up in the Muggle world. Although…” she added thoughtfully, “…it might be terribly interesting to analyze the comics in the context of their impact on wizarding social dynamics – ”

“No, Hermione, that wouldn’t be interesting,” Ginny cut it. “Two minutes with my dad will teach you all you need to know about how well wizards understand Muggles.”

“Still collecting plugs?” Abby laughed.

Ginny rolled her eyes. “Don’t ask.” She looked over at the boxes that Abby had been stacking on the counter. “Oooh, what are those?”

“Well, perhaps you ladies might help me with something today,” Abby replied with a wink, taking the girls by the hand and leading them to the counter. “We just received some new merchandise that I’m dying to play with. Product testing is a good rule of business, you know.”

She opened a pink box and help up a small bundle of thin golden threads, strung with seed pearls. “These are from a new manufacturer – Veela Ventures,” she continued. “Questionable name, but some of their products are quite lovely.”

“What are those for?” Ginny queried.

“They’re to go in your hair, for fancy occasions and such. Hermione, shall we have a go? They’d look very nice with your colouring.”

Hermione gave the baubles a skeptical eye. “I don’t think you’d be able to get them out again,” she said flatly. Abby mentally conceded that she did have a point.

“Oh, you’re no fun!” Ginny said. “It was your idea to come here today, remember? May I give them a try, Miss Loomis?”

“Of course! Why don’t you have a seat here,” – she guided Ginny to a nearby chair – “and I’ll try my hand at this. My apologies in advance if I poke you.” Pulling a number of miniscule hairpins from the box, Abby went to work, wrapping and winding back pieces of hair. Hermione stood nearby, observing as the hairstyle began to take shape.

“You’ve woven those in quite beautifully,” she said.

Abby turned her head a fraction to give the girl a grateful smile. “Why thank you, Hermione. Perhaps I should consider changing professions.” She pulled back two more red locks and began twining the golden filaments into them.

“You can barely see them, but you know they’re there,” Hermione went on slowly. “They’re almost…invisible.”

Abby’s hand faltered for just a moment. Ginny had once mentioned invisibility cloaks in her presence, but the comment had been made in innocence. She looked again at Hermione and saw a glint of deliberation in the brown eyes that she kept shifted to the side, not quite focused on Abby or Ginny. She was also biting her lower lip with a touch of nervousness, Abby noted with further anxiety, her expression tightening. In her line of work, she’d had enough experience reading bodily cues to guess at what this meant.

Moving quickly, Abby pinned up the remainder of Ginny’s hair and stepped back. “There, Ginny – voilá! Why don’t you go and have a look in the revolving mirror?” She pointed to a corner on the other side of the shop.

Ginny sat up and gingerly touched her new coiffure, a pleased smile on her face. “I’ll be right back!” she said gaily. Hermione stayed behind, still averting her eyes, while Ginny scampered to the mirror.

“So,” Abby began under her breath, with her eyes fixed forward and a complacent, even smile on her face. “So.”

She hardly knew where to begin, but she never got the chance. The tinkling of the shop door interrupted her, followed by the entrance of Draco Malfoy. The door swung quickly shut, colliding with the large forehead of Vincent Crabbe. He followed Gregory Goyle inside a few seconds later, rubbing the knot that was already forming. Abby tried to keep her face impassive and hide her amusement, especially as she noticed that the spokeswitches had already fled their picture frames.

Draco scanned the room haughtily, his eyes narrowing as he saw Abby standing next to Hermione. Ginny was just returning from the mirror. The delight on her face dimmed as she saw Draco. His lips twisted into a sneer.

“Good grief,” he drawled, “Do all Weasleys keep such poor company?”

“Are all Malfoys such nasty little ferrets?” Ginny replied, in an impressive imitation of Draco’s manner. She and Hermione giggled.

“Hello, Mr. Malfoy,” Abby interjected, before the students’ exchange could go further. “I assume you’re here to pick up the things your mother ordered for you?” Draco gave a curt nod.

“Have you been to Zonko’s yet?” she continued, in an attempt at pleasant conversation. “I understand he’s giving out free copies of Martin Miggs with each purchase.”

Draco raised an eyebrow. “Why would I want those? They’re about – ” he paused, looked Hermione up and down, and placed snide emphasis on his next word, “Muggles.

Spots of colour formed on Hermione’s cheeks. Abby saw Ginny reach in her pocket, presumably for her wand, and she couldn’t help but think that Hermione’s magical aptitude and the Weasley temperament would likely make quick work of Draco. Unfortunately, that would have to wait for another day.

“Ladies, will you excuse me? I hope you enjoy the rest of your day in Hogsmeade.”

The girls nodded and gathered their things, each giving Draco an icy look on her way past. Abby watched as their two heads – Hermione’s mass of brown curls and Ginny’s fiery red, still bedecked in gold and pearls – passed by the front window before she gave her full attention to Draco.

“Everything is ready for you, Mr. Malfoy. Will you follow me to the back, and we’ll make certain it’s to your liking?”

Draco turned to his companions, only to find that Goyle had hit his own head on a coat rack while gaping at Chanella, who was stocking shelves. He and Crabbe now sat side-by-side, alternately grunting and moaning. Draco snorted in irritation. “Hurry,” he snapped as he and Abby walked past the heavy black curtains to the rear of the shop, where she quickly located his parcels.

“Your mother has excellent taste,” Abby said deferentially as she opened box after box, laying expensive winter robes, clasps, and other fineries across a counter.

Draco stared at her coldly, his arms crossed in front of him. “She does,” he said.

“She’s a very beautiful woman,” Abby continued, removing the tissue paper from the final box. “You may have already heard that I will be stopping by Malfoy Manor tomorrow afternoon. We have a few new items in our winter collection that I think will suit her quite nicely.”

“It won’t happen, you know.”

She looked around sharply, startled at the spite that flowed out of his voice. “I’m sorry, Mr. Malfoy?”

“I know why you’re trying to ingratiate your pitiful self to my family.”

Abby’s look of courteous solicitude began to change into one of puzzlement and worry.

Draco had undoubtedly been a prat in Gladrags before, but he’d never been so directly rude. And what was he accusing her of? She felt her face go clammy, as though a sudden draft had blown through the room.

“I’m afraid I don’t understand you,” Abby said with strained calm.

“I heard you talking to my mother over the summer, asking her about my father, the styles of robes and cloaks that he likes. Your sort has tried this before.” Shades of red began to seep into Draco’s normally pale, pointed face. “My father is loyal to my mother, do you hear me?”

Flustered, Abby dropped a box of stockings on the floor. “Please believe me, Mr. Malfoy, I have no such intention!” she pled, scrambling to keep other boxes from falling. “You must understand that this is a competitive business. Gladrags values the patronage of your family greatly.”

“And you can be certain that our patronage will be taken elsewhere,” he interjected sharply, “once I tell my mother about this. I’ve heard all about you – a working class idiot who couldn’t even make it out of Hogwarts. How dare you even look – how dare you even think – ”

“Confundio!”

Draco’s voice stopped in mid-sentence, his eyes slightly unfocused. Abby stared at him with a stricken face. Her wand hand, pointed directly at his face, shook terribly. Dumbledore had given her thorough instruction on the Confundus Charm long ago, but she’d never had motive to use the precautionary measure until now. Hearing Draco’s misguided accusations had filled her with such alarm, she’d barely had time to think. The damage he might have done! Her wand had moved almost of its own accord. The spell seemed to be working, though – Draco hadn’t said another word.

“I welcome the chance to be your mother’s seamstress, Draco,” Abby began, her voice quavering slightly. “That is all I am to your family. That is all I wish to be to your family.” She lowered her wand, and Draco’s face began to assume its usual expression of disdain. He looked around at the counter and floor, which were covered with boxes and paper.

“You’ve made quite a mess,” he sneered.

“My apologies,” Abby said in breathy relief. This was one time she not mind condescending to Draco Malfoy, so long as she could get him out of the shop as soon as possible. “Shall I owl the parcels up to Hogwarts for you? I’d hate to burden you with them for the entire day.”

Draco nodded, and then brusquely turned to leave.

“Enjoy your time in Hogsmeade, Mr. Malfoy,” she called out after him, frantically thinking that she’d need to research the longevity of Confundus Charms as soon as wizardly possible.

I can’t even imagine where Draco got that idea. I’d rather eat a Murtlap...

**

Sirius’ voice, a most welcome distraction, pulled Abby from her thoughts.

“I’m glad you caught me tonight.”

She smiled at the fire. If only he could stay and be a kind and caring friend like this – just like this – every day. Talking to him and feeling his touch was much more preferable than worrying about the events at Gladrags that morning.

“I’m glad you came in,” she replied, a bit drowsily. “If you’d tried to sneak away, I might have been forced to jinx your underthings.”

“What would that have done?”

“Oh, they’d have never fit comfortably again.”

Sirius laughed softly. “Reason enough to never incur the wrath of a magical seamstress.”

As I suppose Draco learned today.

Abby felt her neck loll back a bit, the tension in her head slipping away under Sirius’ fingers. A flush of embarrassment stole into her face when a slight moan escaped her. Hopefully, Sirius hadn’t heard that. And hopefully, he wouldn’t have to leave anytime soon tonight.

“What is it you have to do with Lucius Malfoy?” Sirius asked, now running the flats of his hands down her hair in smooth strokes.

Ugh. Lucius again. Please, no discussion of Lucius. Continue to do just what you’re doing, Sirius.

Halfheartedly, Abby looked back over her shoulder. She could see a fraction of his face. “You’re still working for Dumbledore, aren’t you?” She saw him nod.

“I’m not certain if I’m allowed to talk about this, but I’m going to anyway. I made the blasted thing, after all. I have a cloak for Lucius – a Whisper Weave cloak. It’s been enchanted to absorb all of his conversations. Dumbledore hopes it might someday provide incriminating evidence against him. I’m going to bring it by Malfoy Manor tomorrow. It should be easy to pawn off on him – the cloth is gorgeous.”

Sirius was silent for a moment. “Whisper Weave,” he finally said. “Nice name. You developed that?”

“I did, with a little help.” Abby laid her head back down on the cushion with a smile. “Never underestimate a Hufflepuff.”

“I’ve never underestimated you.” And with those words, Sirius’ hand moved downward, brushing her cheek, grazing her ear, skimming along the length of her neck, and scooping up the hair at the nape in his fingers. Abby felt as if she might faint. The understanding began to grow in her, as she’d been too fearful and disbelieving to admit all along, that these were more than friendly gestures. But he was leaving. Her mind raced back to the note he’d mentioned earlier. An urgency to know why he was touching her like this, why he was causing her breath to quicken and pulse to race, began to take over.

“Sirius?” she asked, feeling barely in control of her own voice. “May I read the note? The note you were going to leave for me?” She sensed his body tensing. His hand stalled in its movements, and Abby instantly lamented her question. Perhaps it was none of her concern. He would have given it to her earlier, if it had been.

“I’m sorry,” Abby mumbled into the cushion. “I shouldn’t have asked.” She felt even worse when his hand left her hair. She’d ruined it all. She should have kept quiet. Bracing her hand against the arm of the sofa, she began to push herself up, but two hands took her firmly by the shoulders and guided her down again.

“No,” Sirius said huskily. One hand left her shoulder, but returned shortly, draping around her with a piece of folded parchment. “No. I want you to read it.”

Tremulously, Abby slid a finger under the edge of the parchment and broke the seal. She slowly unfolded the note, holding her breath all the while. It could be just a few simple words of goodbye, she told herself sternly, even as she hoped against all hope that it wasn’t. She smoothed over the parchment twice before daring to affix her eyes and read, but she soon saw that she needn’t have hesitated. All the loss and disappointment in her life, prior to this moment, seemed to blur and fade away as one overpowering point carried its way to her soul.

Sirius loved her.

A glorious lightheadedness began to creep over Abby as she studied the message again, poring over every letter, soaking in every sentence. To her increasing delight, he’d left little room for guesswork, but that in no way diminished the giddy pleasure of re-reading the lines a third, fourth, and fifth time.

Abby closed her eyes, now more aware than ever of the warmth of Sirius’ presence behind her. He loved her. He wanted to be with her. She didn’t have to look far inside herself to know what her answer to him would be. Her heart had confirmed it to her daily since he’d left last spring, but she’d never wanted to let herself believe that it might be possible… She pulled open her eyes to read his message a sixth, and then a seventh time, and then –

How does he expect me to concentrate when he’s doing that?!?

Her attention to this newfound source of joy had been wonderfully disrupted by Sirius, who was tracing along the ridge of her collarbone, gliding his fingers across the skin and stirring up emotions that she’d long ago forced into seclusion. But then he stopped, and for the longest moment, his fingertips rested motionless in the hollow of her neck. Abby felt as though her heartbeat must be echoing through the cottage – surely he sensed it, too. He remained still, though, and as the cushion rose and fell slightly with his rhythmic breath, she began to wonder if he might have actually fallen asleep.

And at such a time as this!

As Abby turned her head around, a bewilderedly happy smile on her face, her voice caught in her throat. Sirius, though he sat with eyes half-closed, was very much awake. And suddenly, so was she. His eyes opened, catching hers in their beautiful intensity, and this time, she didn’t look away. She had no reason to look away. She loved him. A soft, involuntary sound of beckoning slipped from her throat, and for the next few earth-stopping moments, Abby could do nothing more than gasp at the wondrous fit of Sirius Black’s mouth with hers. His lips, much like the rest of him, were a little deceiving. She would have never imagined them to be so…expressive. And soft. But then again, she acknowledged, this was Sirius. She should have expected as much.

Feeling a warm, delirious haze cover her completely, Abby shifted her body toward him, wanting to be closer. His arms met her partway, wrapping around her to take her back into the corner of the sofa with him. The cushion that had previously separated them somehow fell to the floor. She twined her arms tightly around Sirius’ neck, laughing breathlessly against his mouth when she heard him murmur her name. Heated sparks shot up her spine as the spread of his hands pressed into her back, and with her lightheadedness amplified all the more, Abby gave herself willingly, trustingly to his kiss.

**

Later that evening, Abby stood in front of her thankfully silent mirror, staring at her reflection. In all her adult life, she’d never looked like this. Eyes somewhat glazed, robes a little askew, hair decidedly tousled. A girlish grin crept across her face as she recalled with vivid exactness how it had reached such a state. Laughingly, she ran a finger around the redness that encircled her mouth. She’d have to see that he shaved next time!

Next time…

There had been a brief moment of panic toward the end of the kiss, when the chiming of the clock had startled them apart. After spending the last twenty minutes relearning Sirius by other senses – the heat of his breath, the lines of his arms, the scent of his hair –it had been a bit of a shock to see his familiar face just inches from her own. She’d wondered, with sudden anxiety, if she’d been too forward. Or worse, too eager. The poor man probably hadn’t expected to have countless years of emotional repression thrown at him without warning. But then that delightful, crooked grin had broken out across his face, and Abby had joyfully realized that there was no reason for worry. Their mouths then came together for one more dazed, delicious moment, before he’d reluctantly disentangled himself from the sofa. He’d said little else before leaving, but it hadn’t been necessary – his lips and hands had spoken to her with as much honesty as words.

Oh, but there had been words…

Abby held up the piece of parchment for one last read, even though she could have likely recited the note blindly by now. Such beautiful words. From him. For her. There were still so many things that they’d never had the chance to discuss, but she knew the answers would come in time. She stumbled to her bed, deciding that any other thoughts or worries – Voldemort, the Malfoys, and how she was ever going to explain this relationship to her father – could wait until the morning. Tonight, she was going to think of Sirius, remember every one of his caresses, and imagine his return.

THE END

**

A/N: Consider this my “thank you” to anyone who put up with the angsty end to “Interwoven”! Much appreciation goes to my trusty team of betas. And as this was my first attempt at writing full-fledged mushy goo, I also thank you those of you who didn’t laugh.
//
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