The Sugar Quill
Author: Gryffinjack  Story: What's In a Name  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.

“Almost a year now

What’s in a Name

 

Thanks to Alphie for allowing me to write this idea inspired by one of her stories, The Gift. Almost all portions of this story that take place at Hogwarts (but not on the train) were written by Alphie as part of The Gift

 

This story is written in Thing1’s wonderful AU, who was kind enough to let me play with her excellent characters once again.

 

 

 

Annie found Griffin at his favourite studying spot by the lake at Hogwarts. In a hushed voice that wasn’t her own, she asked, “How long have you felt this way?”

 

“Almost a year now. And believe me, it scares the hell out of me! We were just having breakfast over at your house last summer and…you called me ‘Griffin’ instead of ‘Black’. It was like a transition of sorts for me. I remember looking across the table at you and just being flooded with the thought that we weren’t kids anymore and how pretty and intelligent you were and how much I liked the sound of you calling me by my first name. And then I realised that I loved you.” He ran a hand through his hair. “I know it sounds stupid, but I hadn’t ever thought of you like that before and it really scared me. I didn’t know what to do, so I – ”

 

“Ran out of the house,” Annie finished. “I remember that morning. Mum asked me if something was wrong because it isn’t like you to not finish a plate full of food!” She chuckled a bit and then said, “So that’s what’s been bothering you all this time?”

 

Griffin nodded.

 

 

Yes, that’s what has been bothering him all this time.  He remembered that breakfast at the Lupins’ house last summer as clearly as if it were yesterday.  Actually, it had all started the day before…

 

*****

 

 

Annie was entered in the Devon Leisure, a regional dressage competition, that Saturday morning.  Since Griffin’s parents had decided to go on holiday for a long weekend to celebrate Sirius’ victory in a major case, Griffin was staying overnight at Grey Timbers with the Lupins after the competition was over.  The entire Lupin clan and Griffin went to the competition.  Even Malcolm had managed to get the afternoon off to see his little sister compete.

 

“The competition in Annie’s age group is quite stiff.  She will be lucky to get a third place rosette,” commented Katie.  “Geoffrey Breckenridge and Felicity Kennilworth have great form.  At least, that’s what Annie has been telling me.”

 

There was no time for more comments, since they were watching the riders and horses preparing in the practise arena. It was a breathtaking sight.  The horses were the most beautiful that Griffin had ever seen.  Their muscles were so well cut that he could even see them from where he was in the stands.  As for the riders in their riding habits, they were all so elegant looking. 

 

Especially Annie.  Although Griffin had attended other events in which she had participated, those were not dressage competitions.  So this was the first time he had seen her in her dressage riding habit.  She looked so proper and refined, not at all like the girl he had grown up seeing in black robes, casual shirts, and trousers.  No, she looked much more mature.  The tight fitting cream coloured jodhpurs emphasised just how shapely her legs had become, especially since they were tucked into sleek, shiny black leather boots.  Her black riding jacket was beautifully tailored to show off her now grown-up figure to its best advantage.  The black crushed velvet of the jacket collar and the ratcather collare blouse softened the lines of her face.  Griffin looked at her face, now framed beautifully underneath the black crushed velvet riding helmet.   Her dark brown hair was tied back in a hair net which gave her a sleek, mature look.  The sun shone brightly on the freckles on her nose, cheeks and forehead, the light dancing in her beautiful grey eyes as she held the reins crisply in her hands, which were enclosed in pure white gloves.  Beautiful eyes?  They’re just eyes!

 

Was this the same Annie that he had grown up with?   How many times had they gone riding on the horses?  How often had they played Exploding Snap with Malcolm and Roarke?  All those pranks they had planned together and played on the various members of their families… not once had he ever seen her looking like anything but his best friend and pseudo-sister.  Until now.

 

As the competition began, each rider led his or her horse to the arena.  As expected, Geoffrey Breckenridge and Felicity Kennilworth were superb, almost flawless.  Then it was Annie’s turn.  She led Wighborn, her roan coloured Connemara pony and thoroughbred cross, out in front of the judges, stopped, and saluted them with a bow of her head, her riding crop and reins held in one hand.

 

“Come on, Sweetheart!” Remus said under his breath. 

 

“She’ll be fine, Dad.  You know how hard she has been practising since she got home from school,” said Roarke.

 

“Even at school, she used to get Hagrid to let her ride the thestrals.”  Griffin added.

 

“No!  Griff, he didn’t really let her ride those beasts, did he?” asked Malcolm, turning to look at Griffin.

 

“Afraid so,” Griffin chuckled as he pushed his black hair out of his eyes.  “You know how headstrong your sister can get when she has her mind set on something, Colm.”

 

“Yes, but thestrals?  How can she ride something she can’t even see?” Malcolm was visibly disturbed by the idea.

 

“The way Annie describes it, it’s not that difficult.  Hagrid helps her mount the thestral and then she rides by feeling its rhythm.  After all, that’s what you do when you ride a horse anyway.  You don’t ride by looking at the horse, you know,” explained Griffin.

 

Malcolm still looked slightly perturbed.  “I’ll have to have a little talk with Hagrid.”

 

“You will do no such thing, Malcolm,” said Katie.  “Your sister is sixteen years old and is capable of taking care of herself at school.”

 

“Your mother is right,” added Remus.  “Besides, Hagrid would never let her ride the thestrals if she were not capable of handling them.”

 

“Oh, come on, Dad.  You know how Hagrid is!  He thinks all the creatures in that forest are perfectly safe.”

 

“Malcolm, I said no,” Remus said firmly.  “It is my job to be the over-protective father, not yours. Besides, it seems to me that you got into more trouble during your years at Hogwarts and that Roarke was routinely in more danger during those Quidditch matches.  Your sister is quite qualified to ride the thestrals at Hogwarts.  Just look at her out there.”  Remus gestured to Annie, who was now halfway through the course. 

 

Across the arena, Griffin saw that Annie and Whigborn were performing splendidly." They performed the next movement as if they were one. At the sight of them, Griffin’s heart leapt into his throat.  Straight back … nice posture … very good.   Her hips were going up, down, up, down… in perfect rhythm with the horse. From all of the experience riding his horse at the Lupins’ with Annie, Griffin knew that the course was quite difficult and admired how effortless Annie made it seem. 

 

At last, Annie and Wighborn completed the test and exited the arena.   Griffin exhaled again, finding that he had been holding his breath not only out of nervousness for Annie’s success, but also because of the strange new thoughts that were entering his head.  His blue eyes looked sheepishly at the others to make sure nobody had seen him acting so nervously. 

 

Later that day when the awards were presented, Annie had come in third place.  Felicity Kennilworth had won and Geoffrey Breckenridge had come in second.  Annie gracefully accepted the white rosette and looked out to the audience searching for her family, smiling as she found them.

 

Once they got back to Grey Timbers, Annie wanted to go riding for a while before dinner.

 

“Haven’t you had enough riding today, Lupin?” asked Griffin as they headed toward the stables.

 

“No, you idiot boy!” she laughed.  “I only get two months to really ride them," she said, looking at the horses. “After that, it’s back to school.  The thestrals are great, but they just are not the same.  I miss my own horses.  Now come on, Black, it’s not as if I suggested we go for a broom ride!”

 

Annie raced him the rest of the way to the stables, where they soon had Butch and Rascal bridled and saddled.  Although Butch was Katie’s horse, Annie always rode him after competitions to give Wighborn a chance to rest.  Griffin liked riding his horse, Rascal, whom he kept at the Lupins’.  He was a large midnight black horse who stood fifteen and one-half hands tall.  He stroked the snow-white blaze as he gave Rascal a sugar cube. 

 

“Come on, Rascal,” he said, as he led the horse by the reins onto the trail.  Annie had already saddled Butch and was sitting atop the horse, waiting for Griffin to catch up to her.  She had changed into a Muggle pair of blue jeans and a pink casual shirt.  Griffin soon caught up to her and they rode down the trail into the woods together, talking all the way.

 

“… so if Wighborn hadn’t taken the wrong lead, then I wouldn’t have had to correct him and we might have won.” Annie’s face brightened as she began to laugh.  “Well, he's never muffed a strike off like that before ... must have known you lot were watching! But I know Wighborn did the best he could.”

 

“I’m sure he did, Lupin.  Still, if poor Wighborn only had a better rider, then he might have won.”  Griffin teased.  They had been having this same discussion after her competitions for as long as he could remember.  Annie would make an excuse for why she and her horse were not fast enough, and Griffin would tease that it was her fault.  It was the kind of good-natured teasing that best friends or sibling engaged in.

 

 “So you don’t think I’m a good rider, eh?”  She looked visibly shaken. 

 

Griffin was startled by her reaction.  In all the other times they had teased like this, he had never seen that look before.  "Look, I'm sorry.  It's called sarcasm, Lupin."

 

“Fine, we’ll just see about that, Black. First one to the pond wins!” and she was off like a shot, jumping Butch purposely over a log instead of taking the smooth trail.  Even if he had been able to Apparate Rascal and himself to the pond, Griffin doubted they would have beaten Annie and Butch.   

 

After watering the horses at the pond, Griffin and Annie rode the horses a while longer, Annie slightly in the lead. Griffin always enjoyed riding the horses with Annie.  They used to ride double on one horse while riding with Malcolm and Roarke, who would ride the other horse.  But that was a long time ago, before Malcolm finished Hogwarts and moved into his own flat.  And now Roarke was also finished at school and too busy with her own life to go riding.

 

Rascal pulled even with Butch and the two horses neighed softly to each other and gently touched noses. 

 

“Well?  Still say I’m not a good rider, Black?”  Annie asked sarcastically.

 

“Don’t ask me; ask Butch. Watch that corner, Lupin, you know he hangs in at times,” he chuckled.  “No. I never doubted you for a minute,” he said dramatically with a twinkle in his eye.

 

“I wish I got more time to practise,” said Annie sadly.  “I mean, practising on thestrals helps, but it’s not the same.  Plus, Wighborn needs the practise, too.”

 

“I know, but that’s the best you can do for now.  We’ll be finished with school soon enough and then you can practise all you want.”  He tried to sound comforting; he wanted to make her feel better.  “Besides, you can still ride circles around me any time.”

 

“Good.  Because otherwise I’m sure that Butch would be more than happy to race you to prove a point.” She trotted slowly ahead of him on the dapple-grey English hunter with a triumphant air. Griffin smiled as he watched the way her ponytail bobbed up and down behind her as Butch trotted slightly ahead of Rascal.  He liked the way it whipped in the wind. The sight of it was now making him feel odd inside.  When did that happen? I’ve seen that ponytail of hers bouncing for years and never thought anything of it.  

 

They led the horses back into the stable, took off their tack, and rubbed them down before feeding them.  Griffin and Annie then went inside and got ready for dinner.

 

Dinner was a celebratory feast in honour of Annie’s performance.  The juicy aroma of Katie’ herb chicken filled the air so much that Griffin was salivating as he waited for everyone to be seated at the dinner table. The vegetables Remus had picked from the garden and cooked had that fresh taste Griffin had come to expect when eating at the Lupins’.  He was never disappointed.  Malcolm and Roarke surprised Annie by making the sticky toffee pudding of which she was so fond.   

 

The table was alive with conversation as everyone listened to Annie recount some of the stickier moments of the competition.  Griffin’s eyes were glued to Annie as she animatedly spoke about the day’s events while trying to butter a roll.  Suddenly, she looked up at him and their eyes locked.  She caught her breath and fumbled with the roll and knife, causing butter to miss the bread and end up on her wrist instead.  Embarrassed, she blushed a pretty shade of pink and wiped the offending butter off her skin.  Griffin’s stomach felt strange, and he was sure it was not due to the dinner he had eaten.

 

Hoping to change the focus of the conversation away from Annie, Griffin asked, “Have you had any luck getting a position yet, Roarke? Any idea what you want to do yet?”

 

Everyone’s eyes turned to look at Roarke, who finished her sip of lemonade before responding, “Nothing yet.  Not sure what I want to do, really, but I’ve been thinking of becoming a curse breaker.  All I know is that I’d like to do something that makes a difference.”

 

“Something will turn up, Firecracker,” said Katie, dabbing her mouth with her napkin.  “Knowing you, if nothing does come along, you’ll make your own path.”

 

“I suppose.”  She looked rather depressed.  “It’s just that I wish I had something lined up already.  I hate having nothing to do.”

 

Griffin wished there were something he could say to make Roarke feel better, but he couldn’t come up with anything.  He looked at Annie, hoping she could, but she was sitting there twirling her hair as she looked at Roarke.  He never noticed before that she twirled her hair.  When did she start doing that?  Why can’t I take my eyes off her? It’s just Annie!   

 

“It takes some time, Roarke,” Malcolm said matter-of-factly. “I applied months before end of term, and look how long it took before I finally heard that I’d been accepted.”

 

“How are things going with the Aurors?” asked Remus cautiously.  “We’ve seen so little of you lately.”

 

Roarke smiled at her brother, happy to have the attention deflected from her.  Her look did not escape Griffin and Annie, whose eyes met as they began to giggle silently to themselves. 

 

The look on Malcolm’s face became neutral as he straightened almost imperceptibly in his chair.  “Everything’s fine, Dad.  It’s just been very busy lately, that’s all.  Some strange occurrences we’re investigating, but nothing I can talk about.”  He took a bite of the peas, a closed look on his face, as his brown eyes were dark with untold mystery.  From years of knowing Malcolm, Griffin could tell that Malcolm would not discuss the matter any further.

 

He looked carefully from Malcolm to Remus and Katie. Although Malcolm had Katie's dark brown hair and eyes, it was strange the way that he looked and acted much like Remus.

 

“Just be careful, my Little Marauder,” said Remus quietly.  “Sirius would be very cross with me if anything happened to you.  Not sure why he would blame me, but he would.”

 

That eased everyone’s mood at the table.  The tension Griffin felt earlier was gone as he laughed.  He knew that Remus was right.  That’s exactly what his father would do. 

 

“Good thing Dad’s not here right now to hear that, then,” Griffin chuckled as he heard Annie laughing merrily.  They had often sniggered before about how his father was so protective of him.  However, he had never before noticed how wonderful her laugh sounded. His attention was turned back to Remus as he addressed him.

 

“You know I think the world of your father, but sometimes he can be such a mother hen,” smiled Remus, rolling his eyes.

 

Griffin knew exactly what he meant. 

 

“You don’t have to live with him.  He makes me tell him everywhere I’m going and when I’ll be back,” added Griffin.  “He even makes me carry this mirror with me so I can communicate with him anytime and tell him if I’m going to be late.”  He fished out the small mirror from his pocket and showed it to everyone, shaking his head.  “At least Mum’s not like that.” 

 

Annie leaned over to get a better look at the mirror.  As she did so, her side brushed against him, causing a jolt of electricity to shoot through his body.  He jerked away quickly, surprised at his own reaction.  What happened?  I’ve never felt that before when she’s touched me. It’s never affected me at all.   He shoved the mirror back into his pocket.

 

“Your father might not live with us anymore, Griffin, but I seem to recall him being a bit of a mother hen when I was pregnant with Malcolm and he was still living here,” added Katie. ”But at least he shared that job with someone else at this table,” she said, her eyes twinkling at Remus.

 

Dinner continued with many stories about Sirus Black, worrywart.  Everyone was laughing and having a good time until dinner ended and it was time for Malcolm to go home to his flat.

 

The children washed all the dishes and put them away before settling in for a game of Magical, Muggle, or Misunderstood in Roarke’s bedroom.  It usually bothered Griffin a little bit if he lost, which he did quite often, since both Roarke and Annie were quite competitive.  However, it didn’t bother him tonight.  He was too busy watching how Annie took great pleasure from each incorrect guess Roarke or he made.  Griffin’s insides grew all warm every time he saw the impish grin on her face as she tormented them with ambiguous answers to their questions.  When Roarke and Griffin at last gave up, Annie proudly announced that her object was a Honeyduke’s best chocolate Easter egg and broke out into peals of laughter as Roarke tallied up the score and confirmed that Annie had won the most games that night.

 

“Come on, you lot!  Time to clear out and get to bed,” said Roarke as she got up and opened her bedroom door. “Mum wants me to help with the gardening tomorrow and I would like to get most of it done before it gets too hot outside.”

 

Griffin lazily curled his body off her bed and stretched. Although he hated to admit it, he was tired from all of the days’ events.  He could tell by the way that Annie covered her mouth as she yawned that she, too, was tired.

 

“All right, Roarke.  We know full well where the door is.”  Annie was already halfway out the door when she turned and said.  “Come on, Black.  Don’t prove me wrong.  The door’s over here.”

 

“Thank you, Lupin.  But as you said, I’m perfectly capable of finding my way out without assistance.”  He shot her a nasty look as he shoved his way past her.  Why does she always think I’m such an idiot?   “Good night, Roarke.”  He went quickly down the hall, his mind dizzy from brushing against Annie at the doorway.

 

His skin still tingled from this latest contact with her as he brushed his teeth and got ready for bed.  What’s going on?  That makes twice in one day that being so close to her has sent my mind spinning!  I don’t understand it, any of it.   The whole day had been very confusing to him.  As many times as he had seen Annie’s competitions and spent the night at the Lupins’ house, he had never before noticed so many things about her.  Somehow, she was different.  He  was different.  But he couldn’t put his finger on what it was that had made things change, why he felt strange around her.  Everything had been fine when they’d left Hogwarts a few weeks ago.  Things were normal then.  But something had changed and it was driving him crazy trying to figure out what it was.    

 

Griffin gave a deep sigh as he crept into Malcolm’s old bed, blew out the candle, turned over, and fell into a fitful sleep.

 

*****

 

The sun was shining brightly into his eyes when Griffin woke up.  It only took him a minute to remember that he was still at the Lupins’, and would be going home later today.  Although he always enjoyed spending time with the Lupins, he would be glad to see his parents again. He loved his parents and they loved him. Things were as normal at home as they always were. Not like they were here … around her. 

 

Griffin had soon washed and dressed. He took one last look in the mirror and pushed back a lock of his black hair before going downstairs.  Voices were coming from the kitchen, signalling that everyone else was already up.  Blast!  Always the last one up!   His mother had been constantly teasing him about that this summer.

 

“Good morning, Griffin,” said Katie warmly as she pulled out a chair at the table for him.  “Come sit down and have some breakfast.  Remus has just finished making some bacon and eggs for us.”

 

Griffin sat in the chair she indicated and poured some orange juice for himself.  Roarke and Annie were already sitting at the table buttering their toast.  Katie had turned away from the table to get a cup of coffee, but stopped as she saw Remus approaching.

 

“Here you are, Katie-love,” Remus said in that special voice Griffin had noticed he only used with his wife.  Remus held out the cup of coffee to his wife, smiling happily.

 

“Why, thank you, dear.  You do such a good job of taking care of me,” Katie said playfully as she took the coffee and set it on the table before turning to give her husband a rather warm-looking kiss.  Remus put his arms around her waist and pulled her nearer as he returned the kiss.

 

 Well, they seem rather chipper this morning.   

 

Looking over at Annie, Griffin saw her rolling her eyes at them.  “They are always like this.  You’ve seen them before.  It’s embarrassing, really.”

 

“Oh, come now.  You don’t have to put up with us for that long.  The first of September will be here before you know it and then you will be back at Hogwarts tucked safely away in your Ravenclaw dormitory away from your embarrassing parents,” Remus said as he tousled Annie’s hair.

 

“Daddy!” shrieked Annie as she raised her arms to get Remus to stop.  “Now look what you’ve done!” she cried, even though she was smiling at her father. 

 

“Sorry, Sweetheart.  I forgot how particular you were about your hair these days.”  For some unknown reason, Remus winked at Griffin as he said this.  “Here.”  And he waved his wand over Annie’s head and fixed her hair for him.

 

“Did I get it right?  After all, it must be fixed properly to go feed the horses!” Remus   joked.

 

“It will do for now,” said Annie as she felt her hair.  “I’ll fix it later...  after  the horses.”

 

Griffin didn’t see what was wrong with her hair.  To him, it looked beautiful.  Beautiful?  When did her hair start…

 

“So are you ready to help with the gardening after breakfast?” Katie asked Roarke.

 

Roarke finished her mouthful of eggs before responding, “Yes, Mum.  But, honestly, are you?  Do you have to wear that turtleneck in the middle of summer?  It’s too hot for that!”

 

Katie and Remus looked at each other with guilty smiles for a moment.  “Well, dear, you know how easily I get bitten by insects.  I’m just trying to keep them away from my neck.  That’s all.”

 

 What’s the big deal about clothes?

 

“Oh, come on. You don’t even have any clients today,” replied Roarke, still trying to argue her point.  “I mean, it’s not like we don’t know about those love bites!”

 

As Griffin looked from Katie to Roarke, he noticed that Remus was smiling behind his cup of tea.

 

 Oh.  A groan escaped Griffin as realisation struck him.  Love bites? Okay, that’s just plain sick!  She has love bites from Remus on her neck?   Griffin shuddered at the thought.  So that’s why she covers her neck so often!

 

Katie looked a bit uneasy as she explained “I just feel more comfortable wearing them at certain times.  That’s all. We all have our own tastes.”

 

Roarke shrugged her shoulders and stabbed at her eggs with her fork.  “Fine.  Wear them all you want.  I promise you, if I ever had something like that to hide, I’d just use a simple charm and be done with it rather than suffering through the heat all day.” 

 

Griffin shook his head slightly and ate a piece of bacon.  Some people were so strange. Why would anyone want love bites? And here Roarke was even thinking about what  she  would do if she ever got a love bite!  Griffin was glad that Annie didn’t act like Roarke.  Annie was normal.  Well, at least she was… until yesterday.

 

He glanced up from his plate to look at her.  She quickly ducked her head down and stabbed at her eggs a few times.  Weird.

 

Annie pushed a strand of her wavy brown locks behind her ear as she continued to concentrate on her eggs.  She was wearing her hair loose today.  Normally, she wore her favourite barrette.  But then again, so many things were different about Annie lately.  Actually, her hair looked pretty lying loosely around her shoulders like that.  He liked the way she wore her hair so much better than the way some of the girls in Gryffindor wore theirs… all swept up into some odd bumps on their heads with strands hanging out… they must have got it from some magazine.  Annie was too intelligent to do something like that.  Her hair looked natural and suited her perfectly.  She didn’t look like the other girls, she was better looking.

 

Griffin tried to concentrate on his bacon and eggs.  Since when did I start thinking about girls’ hairstyles?  Since when did I think of Annie as a girl?  She’s always been plain Lupin, not a girl.  It’s a good thing Gary isn’t here … he’d tease me every chance he got about it.

 

The heat rose in Griffin’s face as he swallowed some of his orange juice.  Roarke was right; it was warm today.  He took a bite of toast.

 

“Would you please pass me the orange marmalade?” asked Remus, extending his hand to take the marmalade from Annie.  “Thank you.”

 

“May I please have the orange juice, Griffin?” asked Annie quietly. 

 

 Griffin?  Did she call me Griffin?    He looked up at Annie, stunned.  Her beautiful grey eyes were looking straight into his own.  She was smiling sweetly at him; even the freckles on her nose seemed to be smiling. 

 

 Oh my goodness!  She is … beautiful!

 

“Griffin?  The orange juice?”  Annie was motioning to the pitcher in front of him.

 

He sat there quite unable to move for a moment longer before recovering himself.  “Oh!  I’m sorry.  Here you go … Annie.”  And he handed the orange juice across the table to her.

 

He was being silly.  Griffin was his name.  Why shouldn’t she call him that? But she had always called him “Black” or “that idiot boy.” Ever since they were little.  Never “Griffin.”  Just like he never called her “Annie,” always “Lupin.”

 

 It sounded so nice to hear her call him by his first name.  Much better than “Black.” They had been calling each other by their last names all through childhood.  But now…

 

We aren’t kids anymore. We’re growing up.  That’s why she looks so different.  Why she acts so different.  She isn’t the little kid I grew up playing Muggle World with.  Actually, we hardly ever play games when we’re together anymore. Usually, we’re talking about various things in our lives.  She’s so intelligent and she knows me so well, I can talk to her about anything.  Nobody understands me better than she does.  And she still likes me.

 

Annie called me “Griffin” – twice.  It sounded so wonderful to hear her call me that!  Not like anybody else.  No, she is different… special. She’s always there for me, always knows exactly what to say or do. She is … wonderful.

 

She makes me feel different.  Makes me feel better, more confident.  Special.

 

Griffin’s eyes went wide as he realised what he had been trying to understand lately, what was different …

 

 I love Annie.  Could that be true?  How could I possibly love Annie?

 

But I do.  I know it; I love her.  Everything about her.  Her intelligence, the way she looks, the freckles on her face, the way she laughs, her love of horses, her sense of humour… everything.   

 

He glanced up at Annie.  She was looking at him, her cheeks a bit pink.

 

 Does she know?  How could she know?  I hope not!  I’m sure she doesn’t love me.  I’m just the same old Black … or Griffin… to her that I’ve always been.  She can’t feel anything for me.  I’m still “that idiot boy.”  Just a friend to her.  That’s all I’ll ever be to her.

 

His pulse was racing now; he could feel the blood throbbing in his head as he tried to figure out what to do.

 

 Does anybody else know?  Does it show?

 

He looked around the table, but Annie was now eating her toast again.  The only one looking up was Roarke, who was smiling a little at him.  It’s probably just a polite smile.  She can’t know anything.  She better not know anything!  She better not tell Annie.  No, Roarke wouldn’t do that.  She can’t do that; she doesn’t know anything.

 

What should I do?  I can’t stay here… I’ll act like an idiot.  Every time she looks at me, I’ll look back like some love-struck puppy.  Or worse.  Look how I’m acting now, and she’s not even looking at me. 

 

No.  I can’t stay here.  I’ve got to go… somewhere…anywhere… The room was spinning.  Everything was moving much to quickly to understand.

 

Griffin almost knocked his seat over as he bolted out of it, trying to look nonchalant, but failing miserably. 

 

“Please excuse me,” Griffin said nervously, running a hand through his hair.  “I can’t take any more… I mean I don’t  want  anymore… I’m rather full.  I’ll … be out back. At the stables… feeding the horses.  Maybe I’ll ride Rascal … when he’s done eating.  Excuse me.”

 

And with that, Griffin left the Lupins and his half-eaten breakfast behind him as he dashed out of the kitchen past the gardens, behind a curtain of cypress trees, and on to the paddock.  He quickly fed the horses, waited impatiently for Rascal to finish his feed, and rode him bareback away from the trails he and Annie usually took.

 

He wanted to be alone to think things through.

 

*******

 

That was several months ago.  And during the following months, Griffin had been too afraid to tell Annie how he felt about her. His mind slowly came back to the present-time, to his favourite spot by the lake at Hogwarts… and to Annie.

 

“Haven’t you heard a word I’ve been saying?  Here, let me explain it to you this way!”  She leaned over and, without warning, kissed him.  Griffin inhaled sharply as their lips met, but he didn’t pull away.  His mind went totally blank as he took in the sensation of her hand against his face – and her lips pressed against his lips.

 

She pulled away slightly and pressed her forehead to his.  “Now do you understand?  You are so much more than my best friend, Griffin.”

 

Yes, now he understood.

 

*****

 

 

They had been so much more than best friends ever since that day at Hogwarts so long ago.  Now that they were leaving Hogwarts, Griffin knew that he would be leaving with Annie at his side.  He should have seen this coming.  After all, he had inherited his grandmother’s abilities as a Seer.  But how can you see when love is going to find you?  Especially when it is right in front of you.

 

Griffin wrapped his arms tighter around Annie as she slept in his arms.  Annie snuggled in closer to him with a sweet sound of sleepy contentment.  The train would be pulling into the station soon and their parents would be there to greet them.  He still wasn’t sure how Remus would feel about things.  Katie would be all right with it, but Remus…  After all, Annie was his youngest daughter, his little Sweetheart.

 

But now they would be spending a lot more time together once they got home.  He did not relish the idea of the look on Remus’ face every time he came over to see Annie.  But he wasn’t going to let that get in the way of their being together.  He kissed her gently on the top of her brown head.

 

Annie stirred and looked up at him, smiling sleepily.  “Are we there yet?”

 

“Almost. About another half hour.”

 

She took her hand out from underneath her head and wrapped it around him in an embrace. 

 

“Are you still sure?” he asked.  “You know, we don’t have to tell them anything just yet if you don’t want to.  You can still change your mind.  We’re not there yet, you know.”

 

Annie raised herself off of his chest and looked at him in disbelief.  “You idiot boy!  Of course, I want to!  I love you, Griffin Black.  I want to spend every moment I can with you.  You can’t get away from me that easily.”

 

Griffin smiled at her as he moved his arm and tenderly stroked the smooth skin on her cheek.  “I hope that’s a promise.  Because I love you too much to ever let you go.”  He tilted her head up to his and pressed his lips gently on hers. 

 

She settled her warm body against his again as the train continued to move them closer to home, closer to their future together. 

 

“I just hope your father will be okay with this,” said Griffin.

 

Annie chuckled a bit.  “He’ll live.  If he could live through Roarke and Liam, then he can handle this.”

 

“That’s easy for you to say.  You’re not the one dating his little girl,” Griffin quickly replied. 

 

“I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you,” said Annie, laughing again as she reached a finger up to trace his jaw line.  “If anything, it’s your father that should worry.  Daddy will find some way to blame it on Sirius, not you.  And your father can take care of himself where Daddy is concerned.  They always give each other a hard time about things, but you know that they are like family.  So we will just be bringing the families a little closer together.  That’s all.”

 

Griffin pushed Annie gently away from him so that she was sitting straight in her own seat next to him.  He suddenly felt nervous, as he knew what he wanted to do.  What he had to do.  Annie looked at him, confused.  He reached for her hands with his own and held them in his lap.

 

He stared at her without speaking for a minute.  “You’re so beautiful.”  Griffin gulped some air, trying to remember how to breathe.  He continued to look into her clear grey eyes.  She looked right back at him, her gaze never faltering.

 

“Annie, um, … we’ve been like family … forever it seems.”  Griffin sighed as he ran his fingers through his hair.  How do I put this?   Then he quickly spurted out as he got an idea. Remember how we used to play exploding snap, and Magical, Muggle or Misunderstood, you’d always win at that.  I don't know when I stopped seeing you as a sister Annie.”  He suddenly broke off and put his head in his hands, exasperated. “God! This is so hard to say!”  How can I ask her this?    He growled in frustration.  Finally, he gathered himself up and looked determinedly at Annie.  “I want you to be a part of my family, my  REAL  family. I’ve never known a day without you in my life and I hope I never do.  I wouldn't be able to stand it!  You’re everything to me. I love you.  I know I do.  And I always will.  I know I can still be that idiot from long ago, I don't deserve you or your love. I need you."

 

He broke off and swallowed hard again. His mouth was so dry.  Why did this have to be so difficult?    He felt very awkward; perhaps it was too soon.  I can’t do this!    But he had to know.  Pull yourself together and just do it!    “Annie, suppose I was to say this to you - what would you say?  I’d go on bended knee and say, 'Analyise Elizabeth, will you marry me?'”  He hastened to add, “I mean, we just got out of school.  We’re too young.  Not now… someday… when we’re older.  We need to get our lives going with real jobs and stuff like that first.  Oh, I don’t know what I’m saying, but I know I want you to marry me someday.”  I’ve gone and mucked the whole thing up!   It’s too soon.  Look at this – I’m actually sweating!  Really smooth.    

 

Annie stared at him for one agonising minute without making a sound.  Griffin had never felt so nervous before in his life as he did now, waiting for her to answer.

 

At last, Annie cleared her voice and spoke.  “Well, I suppose I would say ‘yes.’”

 

“Then why don’t we suppose I have asked that, for the time being, and wait for the moment I really ask you?”

 

“That sounds reasonable, Griffin Remus.  I’ll keep my datebook clear until then... whenever that may be.”

 

And with that, they embraced each other with all of their love.  Griffin reached a hand to her face again and wiped away the tears that were sliding down her cheek.   He leant his lips down and kissed her with all his love and the relief that she would be his. 

 

There would never be any more doubt.  This was forever.

//
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